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Healthcare Facilities: Taking a Turn for the Better—Wayfinding in Health Facilities

Jancarpman sq

Janet R. Carpman, PhD MCP


  • COST

    Free and open to the public.

  • TYPE




As with many buzzwords, everyone thinks they know the meaning of “wayfinding” (another word for signage, right?), but the reality is more complex and nuanced than it might seem. This presentation will offer an introduction to the concept of wayfinding and touch on a number of related issues: what makes wayfinding difficult, some consequences of disorientation, customer expectations about wayfinding in health facilities, and more. It will also drill down a bit and discuss a wayfinding system, architectural and interior design features that affect wayfinding, and best practices for inclusive wayfinding design. There is much more to unpack, but hopefully this wayfinding primer will spark the interest of BSA members in understanding how orientation concerns can and should influence architectural design decisions in all facility types.

1.5 LU/HSW AIA credits are available


Jan Carpman, an architectural sociologist and wayfinding specialist, is IHCD’s first Director of Wayfinding. She is passionate about creating accessible and inclusive places that optimize user experience. Her work with IHCD spans health care, arts & cultural, public transit, educational, offices, retail, and other complex sites and facilities. Jan works with clients to analyze wayfinding problems and find innovative solutions at the nexus of design, behavior, operations, and technology. She is committed to understanding and meeting wayfinding- and other needs and preferences of all users, including seniors and people with physical, sensory, and brain-based functional limitations; budgetary, corporate identity, and mission-related wayfinding- and other concerns of leadership; and day-to-day, job-related, wayfinding- and other requirements of staff. She is proud to have involved thousands of users, leaders, and staff in her research, planning, and design work.

Before joining IHCD, Jan was a principal in her own wayfinding consulting firm, Carpman Grant Associates, Ann Arbor, MI, for more than 30 years. With her CGA colleagues, she analyzed, planned, and designed wayfinding systems for ~70 organizations. Their projects included wayfinding-related design reviews; environmental analyses; user analyses; website analyses; master plans; staff training programs; sign location and message plans; sign designs; You-Are-Here-, Emergency Egress-, and handheld map designs; room numbering systems, and apps. Jan co-authored, with Myron Grant, two, award-winning books, Design that Cares: Planning Health Facilities for Patients and Visitors (3rd edition), Jossey-Bass, 2016, and Directional Sense: How to Find Your Way Around, IHCD, 2012. She has conducted over 100 studies, written more than 45 publications, and given 50+ presentations at meetings and conferences in the US and abroad. Among other professional activities, she is a former Board member of EDRA, the Environmental Design Research Association, and former associate editor of the journal, Environment & Behavior.