ADA Signs

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ADA signage compliance is required by law in all public facilities per the 1992 and 1998 Americans with Disabilities Act (CFR Part 36, Title III; ICC ANSI A117.1), stating that in any building open to the public, signage must be ADA compliant. Examples of such public facilities include but are not limited to–schools, physicians’ offices, health care facilities, professional buildings, government agencies, retail stores, restaurants, transportation stations, entertainment facilities, and private industries.

The idea of ADA compliant signs is one that is often misunderstood. Many people think the phrase is synonymous with braille signs–however, while signs with braille and raised characters are the most common and easily identified form of required signs, ADA Signs Guidelines indicate that much more than braille and raised characters are necessary in order to meet the aforementioned requirements. In addition, different categories of signs have different types of requirements so that they can better cater to the needs of individuals who would be utilizing these signs.

In general, almost every sign that would be considered an “architectural” sign must comply with ADA guidelines. In other words, if a sign identifies a permanent room or frequently travelled area, it must comply with said regulations. In addition, if a sign directs or informs about functional spaces of the facility, or highlights specific accessible features, it must also be in compliance with ADA guidelines. That being said, signs that serve as advertisement, marketing, policy display, company logos, and temporary signs are not required to comply.

The purpose of ADA and Braille signs is to successfully provide ‘wayfinding’ aid and to make public facilities accessible to the blind, visually impaired, and mobility impaired. Wayfinding is simply defined as directing an individual along a path and assisting them in arriving at their destination. This is achieved by marking and defining all rooms that are open to the public, such as restrooms, stairwells, and elevators–as well as providing directional guidance on how to locate specific places within or outside of your facility.

Custom ADA signs can be made from multiple different types of material: wood, acrylic, metal (certain finishes), PVC, and a host of others. ADA guidelines enter the equation by determining the finish on the materials–as in order to meet ADA standards, the sign must have a flat or matte finish. This provides a sign with high contrast, which makes identifying locations easier for those with visual impairments.

The ADA also provides guidance that is based on the purpose of the room being identified. This means that details as small–and seemingly insignificant–as font choice/size are explicitly regulated. This is because in order to provide true accessibility, one must realize that though some details appear irrelevant to able-bodied people, these small changes can make all the difference for the people who live with visual impairments. For example, the location of the information on the sign, along with any frame or border, must be coordinated in such a way that the sign can be clearly read and interpreted, and any Braille characters will not be obstructed by decorative additions. Raised text must be 1/8” and cannot distort or obstruct the pictograph and/or braille text provided on the sign in any way. In addition, the ADA signs requirements also dictate how far off the ground a sign must be in order to be easily visible.

For most instances in which an ADA compliant sign is necessary, pictograms and images play a vital role in aiding people as they navigate your building. The pictogram must be located on a 6” clear area on the sign along with a brief description of the room. These signs must also utilize a high-contrast color scheme to aid in interpreting the message conveyed by pictographs/images used on the sign. Braille must be located underneath the description and, as always, must be raised. Here at Optimum Signs, we understand the importance of ADA compliance when it comes to signs–both for the benefit of your customers and for providing peace of mind throughout the design process. Here, we will help you determine a design plan that not only looks astounding, but also is helpful to any customers that will be utilizing these signs to find their way.

What are ADA Signs?

An ADA Sign is any type of signage that properly fits the necessary requirements outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. These requirements include easily visible signage, use of legible fonts, and braille in order to make the signs both accessible and useful to as many people as possible. Signs that must comply with ADA regulations include room identification signs, informational or directional markers, and exit or entrance signs.

Do you need an ADA Sign?

Making the signage in your building ADA compliant can benefit your business in many ways. ADA Signs are a great way to make your product available to everyone. By following these signs regulations, it helps keep your signs completely user-friendly, allowing the blind or visually impaired to access your services with ease. In addition, by making your business more accessible, you show customers that you care about them and value their business. Finally, these regulations also help make your work environment safer by allowing people to readily locate exits and entrances in case of emergencies.

Not sure whether or not your signs are required to meet ADA standards? Generally speaking, most indoor signs must fit ADA guidelines, however, there are a few exceptions. These exceptions include temporary signs, banners, logos, and the like.

Need help creating the perfect ADA compliant signs for your company? Contact us. We’re more than happy to work with you to make sure your ideal design falls under ADA regulations while staying true to your visual expectations for your signage.

ADA Compliant Signs Basics

Exit Signs
Information Boards
Handicap Parking
Directional Signs

Frequently Asked Questions

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has different requirements for different kinds of signs. What makes a sign compliant will depend on the purpose the sign is serving. Be sure to work with an experienced signage company like Optimum Signs to ensure your signage meets all ADA requirements.

No, not all ADA signs need braille. Signs that are not meant to be touched, but which are still useful for those with disabilities, may have non-braille requirements.
There is no one specific font that is required on your ADA signs, however, there is a whole class of fonts that are not allowed. These are serif fonts. Serif fonts have artistic flourishes attached to different parts of the letters. While they make a letter beautiful, they also make them harder to read.
The braille signs have many different requirements, especially depending on the use of the sign. All braille on ADA compliant signs needs to be grade-2 braille, which is a shorthand version of braille that is faster to read than other varieties. There are also requirements about how high the braille is.
While we focus on the ADA’s sign requirements here, the ADA covers other elements of a business too, like the walkways, doors, and other accessibility concerns on a property. The legislation also covers more disabilities than just impairment like mobility issues, development disorders, and more.

Braille is part of the ADA requirements for many signs. However, not all signs need braille under the ADA and braille is not the only sign requirement under the ADA. Signs must also have certain characteristics for those who have some, but limited, vision, including contrasting colors, clear font and more.

Braille dots are arranged into groups of six which are called cells. The specific pattern of the six dots in a cell is what gives the braille its meaning. The six dots are kind of like a letter in the English alphabet. Some cells can represent entire words on their own.

There is a range of ADA signage heights. Any sign with braille needs to be between 48 inches and 60 inches from the floor. This 12-inch range allows people to find the sign with their hands and allows the sign to be read by them. Not all ADA-compliant signs are limited in height.
That’s a great question, however, it isn’t possible to give you a specific answer without understanding your property and your business. ADA sign requirements are complex, but we can guide you through the process of discovering which signs you require.
Your restroom signs that meet ADA requirements and include braille must be within 48 to 60 inches of the floor. This is so that they can be found by those with visual impairments. However, these do not need to be your only restroom signs. You can include additional signs at different heights.
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