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Exit Signage – can’t see, won’t see


Affordance & learned irrelevance

Conventional emergency exit signage suffers from two significant issues that severely compromises its performance:

  1. Poor, or a lack of, ‘affordance’
  2. Learned irrelevance

Let’s tackle these in reverse order.

Learned irrelevance

Also known as the pre-exposure effect, it may be described as the learning to ignore things that lack meaning or have no impact on us.  We see it all the time, it doesn’t affect us so we don’t see it.

What does this mean for the performance of conventional signage?  It means it doesn’t work at all well.


Mirriam Webster defines affordance as ‘the quality or property of an object that defines its possible uses or makes clear how it can or should be used’ so how intuitive an item is in terms of use or indeed how to react to it.  In simple terms this means we see something but don’t know how to react to it.

Summarily, we are unlikely to see it and if we do see it, we are unsure how to react to it causing us to be indecisive just when a quick, accurate decision matters most.  This is important enough in simple wayfinding terms let alone when we are trying to find our way to safety in an emergency.  This increases stress and more critically slows evacuation, increases risk and puts lives at risk.

These are not only key to the lack of performance of conventional emergency exit signage but are all also key to why Evaclite dynamic signage was designed the way it was. 

It is designed to grab the attention and convey a clear, intuitive message that we know how to react to. 

It has been proven to be seen twice as easily, help you make up your mind in half the time and get you moving in the right direction twice as quickly.  It is the brighter, quicker and safer choice.

Alan Ward