Pictograms on lift phones are a visual aid to help a hard-of-hearing person know the status of the emergency call. The 2003 Standard for EN 81-70 indicates the following 3 steps as compulsory:
The lights not only provide a status but are a visual confirmation that the emergency phone is operating correctly.
In 2018, the standards were updated, and pictogram operation was moved to EN81-28. The steps were also modified, requiring a slight change to the pictogram operation:
When an alarm button is pressed, the alarm equipment goes from a standby state to an alarm state. In this state, it will call out and allow the rescue company to dial back in and speak to the trapped passenger in the elevator car. This allows passengers to have access to remote help whilst trapped in the elevator car, providing them with access to services that will help enhance their safety during this period.
When the entrapment is over (once the passenger is freed), the emergency phone must be taken out of its alarm state and back into its standby state where it will not automatically allow any incoming calls, to prevent someone calling into the elevator car and eavesdropping on conversations. This helps ensure passengers’ right to privacy is protected. The alarm signal can be ended locally by an on-site engineer via a key switch or a button in or on the elevator, or remotely by the operator who can send the message *# via a keystroke from a keypad.
The new Standard enhances privacy to the passengers as the yellow lighted pictogram shows if the alarm is still active and therefore if third parties can hear what’s going on inside the car.
The other mode of operation to be aware of is when a 3-day test call fails as EN 81-28 2018 states that in these cases the pictograms will flash in opposition 1 second on 1 second off to signal to elevator users that there is a problem with the telephone (the issue could be linked to the telephone line connection, or the hardware of the telephone itself). The lights will continue flashing until the next successful test call takes place.