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ISO 9186-3:2014 specifies a method for testing the referent association of graphical symbols intended to communicate information to users who are familiar with what the symbol is intended to denote or represent (the referent). The referents can be specialized, so that the general public cannot be expected to be familiar with them without familiarity training. The intention is to develop graphical symbols which are correctly recognized by users familiar with the referents when no supplementary (i.e. explanatory) text is presented. When such a graphical symbol cannot be obtained, it might be necessary to present a graphical symbol together with supplementary text explaining its meaning in the language of the intended users.

NOTE 1 Alternatively, it could be necessary to inform people about the meaning of the graphical symbol by including its meaning in manuals, instructions, or training.

NOTE 2 ISO 9186-1 specifies a method for testing the comprehensibility of graphical symbols. ISO 9186-2 specifies a method for testing the perceptual quality of graphical symbols, the extent to which the elements of the graphical symbol can be correctly identified.