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I Love Doing Sign Surveys!

If you’re lukewarm on surveying, consider it an opportunity to help people in the future.




Sharon Toji is the co-owner of H Toji and Co. in Lakewood, CA.

OOPS! I ABSOLUTELY love doing sign surveys, says this sign person always! Send your sign survey requests my way and I’ll be there. There is nothing more exciting to me than walking (or rolling in my wheelchair) around a site or a building, putting myself in someone else’s shoes.

Did I come by bus? How do I know where the entrance is? Did I come by car? Where can I park so I don’t have to walk too far to find the entrance? If I’m here to visit my attorney, my bookkeeper, my friend in the hospital, or my child’s classroom, where is the directory or the information desk? If I am here to ask about renting a space or an apartment, where is the manager’s office? If my destination is not on the ground floor, what’s the best way to get upstairs? If I’ll be there for a while, where are the public restrooms? Is there a cafeteria or a snack bar? Is that a fire alarm? Where is the nearest exit?

I also want to take a close look at the numbering scheme, if there is one. Does it help people find their way, or is it so confusing that it would be an obstacle to first responders during an emergency? Is the terminology on directories, directional signs, and the room signs themselves all in sync?

That’s how I approach sign surveys. And it’s only after I deal with the signs that answer those kinds of questions that I go on to the next step — the tiny details that tell me if the signs currently installed are readable, and also — if they are legally compliant. Of course, I’m talking ADA, but there are other building and safety codes as well. I’ll make a note of everything that is not to code so it can be corrected.

The third thing, although it’s just as important in my opinion as the other parts of my survey, is how I can suggest a sign program that will enhance the building architecture and style. I need a color board, and I need to note all kinds of details in the style of the building and the materials that have been used, both inside and outside.

An opportunity for a survey means an opportunity to help visitors of the future, no matter what their age or ability is to find their destination. I look at a good survey as step one of a top-quality sign system. I’m always excited to know I may be part of the reason that people will use that building and won’t even notice that there is a wayfinding system because it will be so easy for them to find their destination.


(Editor’s note: This article was inspired by “Better Signs Start with Better Surveys” by Bryant Gillespie.)



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