GS&P Completes ACRP Reports on Wayfinding to Improve Traveler Experience

New Reports Provide Research-Backed Wayfinding Best Practices for Airports

December 05, 2017   |   Nashville,  Tenn.   |   Projects

Gresham, Smith and Partners is pleased to announce the publication of the third research report regarding best wayfinding practices for airports. Published in October, ACRP Research Report 177: Enhancing Airport Wayfinding for Aging Travelers and Persons with Disabilities, is a continuation of the wayfinding research previously published in ACRP Report 52: Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside; and ACRP Research Report 161: Guidelines for Improving Airport Services for International Customers.

GS&P led the team that developed guidebooks 52 and 177, and supported the development of guidebook 161 on behalf of the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP), a research program managed by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academy of Sciences. These guidebooks provide objective solutions for the complex wayfinding and signage decisions required by airports. 

“Wayfinding and signage can often be very subjective. Therefore, research-based solutions provide a comprehensive toolkit for airport operators,” said Jim Harding, SEGD, principal investigator and director of Environmental Graphics, Gresham, Smith and Partners. “Based on the principles of universal design, Report 177 not only provides objective guidance for an airport’s wayfinding program, but the net result will enhance the airport experience for aging travelers and persons with disabilities, as well as improving the experience for all passengers.”

GS&P’s previously published ACRP Report 52 serves as the primary resource to assist airports in their wayfinding and signage strategy and planning that includes all terminal areas, curbside and ground transportation, parking, on-airport roadways and off-airport access roads. ACRP Research Report 177 takes into account Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues as well as Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) compliance. Illustrated with real-world examples, the report addresses how to develop a wayfinding strategy, why a strategy is critical, typography and legibility issues, maintenance and more. 

ACRP Research Report 177, led by GS&P, complements ACRP Report 52 and explores the complex navigational challenges faced by aging travelers and persons with disabilities while outlining the information needed to help these passengers travel with dignity and, to the greatest extent possible, independently. This guidebook helps airports implement a comprehensive wayfinding system that in turn provides customers with diverse abilities the information they need. During this research, the GS&P research team developed a first-of-its-kind Wayfinding Accessibility Audit Checklist to help airports identify gaps in each of the customer journey segments. This checklist forms a matrix for various types of communications mapped to the types of disabilities accommodated, along with any known standards or additional guidance available.
 
Because airports are increasingly relying on technology to communicate with travelers, the GS&P research team also explored the usability of mobile applications. The results revealed that most airport wayfinding apps are not currently designed to accommodate users with disabilities, and to date, no single application has been developed that provides essential route information useful to all users.
 
ACRP Research Report 177 provides mobile app developers with a set of principles and an accompanying “Do’s and Don’ts” checklist based on the principles of universal design. This offers a reference for creating or improving wayfinding mobile apps to maximize the utility and usability for all travelers, especially travelers with disabilities, and avoid common pitfalls.
 
ACRP Research Report 177 leverages the principles of universal design as a foundational philosophy of the research. The idea is to design environments usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without needing to adapt the design. Working from a universal design framework moves beyond legal accessibility standards and minimum requirements. In this way, it improves wayfinding and therefore the passenger experience for all passengers, while addressing the needs of those with special considerations.
 
ACRP Research Report 161 by Landrum & Brown, Inc., with support from GS&P, delves into the issues facing international travelers. The research is based on field observations and intercept surveys of 1,000 international customers at the top eight U.S. gateway airports, as well as site visits to five top-ranked international airports. The survey ranked wayfinding as the most important issue for international travelers, therefore the report includes best wayfinding practices to improve the departing, arriving and connecting experience for international travelers at U.S. airports.
 
On December 13, 2017, Jim Harding, principal investigator on ACRP reports 52 and 177, and contributing author on Report 161, will participate in the webinar “Enhancing Wayfinding and Public-Address Systems for a Positive Traveler Experience,” where he will share how airports, designers and planners can benefit from the best wayfinding practices and principles outlined in ACRP Research Report 177. Please visit https://webinar.mytrb.org/Webinars/Details/1137 for more information and to register for the webinar. 


 

“Wayfinding and signage can often be very subjective. Therefore, research-based solutions provide a comprehensive toolkit for airport operators. Based on the principles of universal design, Report 177 not only provides objective guidance for an airport’s wayfinding program, but the net result will enhance the airport experience for aging travelers and persons with disabilities, as well as improving the experience for all passengers.”

Jim Harding, SEGD, principal investigator and director of Environmental Graphics, Gresham, Smith and Partners
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