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Exploring the Design and Development of Directional Signs using Medical Pictograms and Bilingual Inscriptions for Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (Abuth), Shika-zaria

Filed in Current Projects, Industrial Design by on October 12, 2020

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Exploring the Design and Development of Directional Signs using Medical Pictograms and Bilingual Inscriptions for Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (Abuth), Shika-zaria.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the state of the directional signs in Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria. The aim was to develop bilingual signs using English and Hausa languages and supporting pictorial symbols that would be capable of impacting visual meaning on the target audience – especially towards easing wayfinding challenges for patients, caregivers and visitors. A survey method was applied to examine subjects of the population.

An interview was conducted to ascertain the development of the existing signs; questionnaires were also administered on clustered samples from which 50 responses were elicited. The results revealed that in spite of the fact that there are existing directional signs at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital Zaria, patients, caregivers and visitors were still confronted with navigational difficulties as they moved through various health service units of the hospital.

Regardless of their literacy status, majority of those interviewed could recognize 90% of the visual symbols developed for this research. The conclusion was that a well-planned navigational or wayfinding sign system that incorporates standardized pictorial symbols, display fonts, and adhered to appropriate principles and elements of design would guarantee optimal directional needs in Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria. 


The Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) Zaria started as an institute of health in 1967, operated by the Interim Common Services Agency (ICSA) of the then Northern Nigerian Governments. It presently has 33 departments that provide healthcare delivery services to the community and fulfills training needs in Nursing and general medical practice. Before the 15th November 2005 commissioning of the Hospital’s permanent site at Shika, the hospital locations were spread out between Kaduna and Zaria in Kaduna State, and Malunfashi in Katsina State (ABUTH, 2009).

The hospital covers a vast expanse of land measuring 1,000 metres by 2,000 metres and has several numbers of units that include Accident and Emergency, Psychiatry, Ear, Nose and Throat, Physiotherapy, Female and Male Surgical wards, Paediatrics, X-ray, Pharmacy, and Obstetrics and Gyenaecology. An investigation at the permanent site however, revealed a condition that requires a Graphic Design solution -that is the difficulties patients and visitors encounter in locating the various service delivery units within the hospital.

This problem might not be unconnected with the seeming inadequacy of directional signs around the hospital. The condition has therefore prompted the premise for undertaking this research which is aimed at developing bilingual directional signs using standard medical symbols. In developed societies, it is common practice to find various forms of signage design which help to offer guides to visitors in locating specific places –especially within busy city streets, airports, hospitals, institutions, museums, and other public places. 


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CSN Team.

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