The Inclusive Design of pictograms and easy to understand for people with intellectual disabilities

Focused on graphic elements


  • Mao Kudo Kyushu University


People with an Intellectual Disability understand Pictograms that require learning has been reported to be difficult. They exhibit difficulties understanding, including reading and writing, textual information and often use images in the form of Pictograms to circumvent this difficulty.

Against the backdrop of research by AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication), TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children)and others, Pictograms have been used as tools for communication from school age onward. Thus, Pictograms displayed in public spaces are public support tools that enable people with intellectual disability to understand information.

However, in Japan, when some Pictograms were revised or added in preparation for 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2017, and paired comparison survey was carried out by Japanese JIS standard Pictograms committee to determine whether JIS or ISO Pictograms were easier to understand. Some people with disabilities were included in the study, but only 20 out of 121 of them responded (16.5%), and the data was decided to be used only as reference.

From results of author's previous surveys of people with Intellectual Disabilities, Pictograms that are well understood by them are also well understood by people without the disabilities.

In this study, 19 adults with intellectual disabilities and Pictograms of 16items from JIS for guidance were subjected to a comprehension survey in a situation in when they recalled intended actions. As a result, in each Pictogram, graphic elements that increase comprehension were identified. The study also suggested an association between comprehensible graphic elements and IQ.

Specifically, 5 graphic elements influence the comprehension of Pictograms. ①person symbolizing location, ②real orientation, ③motion line (: effect line representing movement, emphasis, sound, etc.) ④location element and ⑤arrow: the length of the axis affects the degree of comprehension. It was suggested that lower IQ, ②real orientation, and ③motion line had more influence on the ease of comprehension.





Journal Article