ISO graphical symbols enable the public to overcome challenges such as language barriers, or illiteracy so that they can understand safety messages and public warnings wherever they might be in the world.

To raise awareness about these symbols and teach the public to recognise the different meanings behind their various shapes and colours, ISO has developed a light-hearted, easy-to-read booklet.

Called ‘The international language of ISO graphical symbols’, the booklet follows the Smith family – featuring Mr and Mrs Smith, their two children and grandma – on holiday in the fictitious country of Ambrosia. Cartoons are used to tell the family’s story over a set of colourful A6-sized booklet panels.

Each panel depicts an adventure during the family’s trip and matches it to an ISO graphical symbol. From escaping a fire in their hotel, to rushing grandma to the hospital, a series of events enables the family to realise how the symbols can come to their aid by bridging language barriers.

A separate section explains the different shapes, colours and symbols used to convey important information. For instance, the booklet informs us that signs warning about hazards that could result in personal injury, or which pose a risk to health are illustrated as a yellow triangle with black borders and black symbols.

Intended as a public information tool, the booklet will also be helpful to professionals directly concerned with public safety and services.

“The booklet highlights the importance of graphical symbols as a way to communicate without words,” says Dana Kissinger-Matray, secretary of the ISO Committee for consumer policy.

“No matter where you are in the world, ISO graphical symbols can help you understand important directions, product features, and other aspects of daily life – such as where the lifts are for wheelchair users, or what areas to keep away from if you have a pacemaker – as well as helpful services such as where you can rent a car, or find a hotel.”

The graphical symbols featured in the booklet have been primarily drawn from ‘ISO 7001, Graphical symbols – public information symbols’ and ‘ISO 7010, Graphical Symbols – Safety colours and safety signs – Registered safety signs’.

‘The international language of ISO graphical symbols’ (English only, pp 33, ISBN 978 92 67 10521 5) is available free of charge (fee for postage and handling) by e-mailing It can also be downloaded as a PDF file free of charge from


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