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The Purpose of ADA Signs

“ADA” stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is a regulatory government protocol that sets the rules and regulations for signage that designates accessible areas of public spaces. The purpose of ADA signs is to give those with visual impairments the ability to read verbiage on signs that designate restrooms, changing rooms, stairwells, elevators, and many other functional rooms. ADA signs are intended to be easily read visually and through tactile touch with the use of Braille. ADA signs are usually made from acrylic and manufactured using special software and a router engraver machine.

ada conference room sign

More Than Braille Signs

ADA signs are sometimes interpreted as being signs with braille, when in fact, they’re much more than just braille signs. The sign standards in the ADA Accessibility Guideline require that signs that identify a permanent room or signs that direct the audience to functional rooms must adhere to rules about the sign materials, finishing, text, braille, and installation standards. Braille signs might seem like they’re only made to benefit the blind and visually impaired, but the simplicity and specificity of these types of signs also benefit the deaf and people with cognitive disabilities.

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Rules for ADA Signs

The following are general rules for ADA signs. The full list of rules and regulations can be found on the ADA website. Keep in mind, different municipalities could have different guidelines to follow so be sure to double-check with your local government and building inspector for the full list of rules that you must follow for your ADA signs!

  • Sign background must have a non-glare finish
  • Sign lettering and sign background must be highly contrasting in color tone
  • Lettering must be in a sans-serif font and all uppercase characters for ease of use
  • Lettering characters must be 5/8” – 2” tall with 1/8” spacing between characters
  • Pictograms must be in their own 6” tall space
  • Braille must be grade II, clear, domed-shaped, and all characters in lowercase
  • Room signs must be mounted on the latch side of the door, centered horizontally in an 18” space, and between 48” – 60” from character baseline to the floor

Keep in mind that this list above is just a general overview of some of the rules for ADA compliant signage. A full list of requirements for ADA compliant signs can be found here.

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Custom braille room signs

ADA Signs and Environmental Design

Most signs have a functional and useful purpose. Signs give people the ability to navigate an unfamiliar space without having to bother someone to ask for directions. ADA signs are so useful, that they’re a requirement for new buildings to have to comply with the ADA. Environmental design is similar to interior design in that it is the design of the surrounding interior layout, furniture, lighting fixtures, and carpet. But the one thing that environmental design takes into consideration is signage. ADA signs may have a lot of limitations in terms of the complexity of their design, but they can still compliment the design of the environment with the use of natural materials, recycled materials, and contrasting finishes.

 

Are you looking for a sign company to design, manufacture, and install your ADA signs? Connecting Signs will work with you to help you reach your goals when it comes to ADA signs. Give us a call today at 970-493-0133 or request a quote here to get started!

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ADA Sign Guidelines

We’ve gone over these guidelines to ADA compliant signage in many past blogs, but we figured that it would be helpful to have all the ADA sign guidelines available in one place! The following details the main ADA regulations and sign design guidelines to follow. If you’re looking to get your ADA compliant signs made today, request a quote here and we will send you a fast and free estimate!

ADA sign fonts

Ten Rules for Room-Identifying Signs

  1. Signs that identify a room, space or area shall have raised characters and braille.
  2. Signs shall have a non-glare finish with contrasting colors.
  3. Pictograms shall be in their own 6” high field. Add the ISA symbol if accessible.
  4. Characters shall be Sans Serif and all Uppercase.
  5. Characters must be between 5/8” and 2” tall with a minimum of 1/8” spacing between letters.
  6. Fonts must be ADA compliant. Not too bold, condensed, italic, or ornate.
  7. 3/8” minimum margin is required around all raised elements including braille.
  8. 1” high space is required for one line of braille.
  9. Braille shall be all together and 3/8” to ½” below the last line of text.
  10. ADA signs are required for both public access areas and all employee areas.

ground level ada sign

ADA Sign Types

The four main types of signs regulated by ADA standards are identification, informational, directional, and overhead signs. The following table shows the different requirements for each type of sign.

Identification

Signs that identify a room, space or area.

Informational

Signs that provide information about a room, space or area.

Directional

Signs that provide direction to a room, space or area.

Overhead Signs

Wall, ceiling and projection type signs mounted overhead.

Sign Finish Non-glare Non-glare Non-glare Non-glare
Sign Colors High-contrasting colors High-contrasting colors High-contrasting colors High-contrasting colors
Braille Required Yes No No No
Raised Lettering Yes No No No
Lettering Font Sans Serif Simple or Sans Serif Simple or Sans Serif Simple or Sans Serif
Lettering Height 5/8” – 2” Min. 5/8” Min. 5/8” Min. 2”
Letter Case All Uppercase Upper and/or Lower Upper and/or Lower Upper and/or Lower
Pictograms Yes No No No
Line Spacing 35% – 70% of letter height 35% – 70% of letter height 35% – 70% of letter height 35% – 70% of letter height
Letter Spacing 1/8” – 4x of stroke 10% – 35% of stroke 10% – 35% of stroke 10% – 35% of stroke
Letter Stroke 15% max. of stroke 10% – 30% of stroke 10% – 30% of stroke 10% – 30% of stroke

 

Mounting Regulations for ADA signs

Below is a visual guide showing ADA sign mounting regulations. It’s always a good idea to double-check with your local government and building inspector before installing ADA signs.

ADA sign mounting

 

Braille Requirements

The ADA requirements for braille are shown below.

  • Shall be domed-shaped and precisely sized and spaced.
  • Must be Grade II Braille (contracted, abbreviated).
  • Shall be 3/8″ to 1/2″ underneath raised characters.
  • For multi-line signs, braille must be grouped together below the last line of raised text.
  • Braille should be in lowercase (except for proper names, acronyms, and letters as part of a number.

 

ADA braille sign requirements

 

 

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ADA Signs, Symbols, and Communication

Acrylic ADA Restroom Signs - Connecting Signs

Acrylic ADA Restroom Signs

What are Pictograms?

Symbols have been used for many, many years to provide a communication short-cut that allows for instant understanding between people who may not speak the same language or who communicate in a different way. Symbols have been an integral component of universal signage for many years as well. In these modern times, the symbols that appear on signs are called: pictograms. Pictograms specifically appear on ADA signs which allows for important room identification communication (i.e., restroom signs, stairwell signs, elevator signs, etc.).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADA Restroom Signage - Connecting Signs

ADA Restroom Signage

ADA signs and Pictograms

Since pictograms are representations of objects or rather of a desired action, there needs to be cohesive symbols that are utilized for all specific signs. For example, an ADA compliant accessible women’s restroom sign is required to show the universal symbol for women as well as the universal symbol for accessibility. When someone visits a public space and they need to use the restroom, they can just look for the corresponding pictogram and locate the restroom they need to use. So, if they visit another public area on another day, they will know to look for the sign that has the pictogram that designates their restroom.

 

 

 

Required and Recommended Pictograms

Anytime a sign exists to assist the disabled, there needs to be a corresponding pictogram that appears on the sign. These signs provide direction and designation of accessible spaces, and certain pictograms are required to appear on them. The international symbol of accessibility, the international symbol of TTY, the symbol for a volume control telephone, and assistive listening systems symbols are all required pictograms for ADA signs. The symbols that are featured on restroom signs are mostly recommended to feature the pictogram for men or women. All gender restrooms do not need to feature either symbol, but a pictogram of a toilet can be used as it is a universal symbol that designates a restroom.

 

 

 

all gender ada restroom sign

All gender ADA changing room sign

Pictogram Options

There are other symbols that can be featured on ADA signs, but they are not required by ADA standards. These symbols include:

  • No entry
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid
  • Defibrillator
  • Hand wash station
  • No smoking
  • Biohazard
  • Baby changing station
  • Exit stairs
  • Radiation area

 

 

 

Although these symbols are not required for ADA sign standards, they can be useful to certain industries and may even be required for certain regulatory industries, buildings, or states. Double-check with your local government to ensure that you’re compliant under their guidelines.

 

 

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Signage for Accessible Environmental Design

custom ADA signs - Connecting SignsWhy is it necessary for public spaces to be accessible to all? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was first signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is an exhaustive catalog of specifications for architectural buildings and public spaces intended to make those areas more accessible for people of all abilities. Among the many items discussed in the ADA is the topic of compliant signage. Signage for accessible environmental design means that the verbiage on wayfinding, permanent exits, and restrooms needs to be accessible to people of all abilities.

 

 

 

 

 

ada room signs

Signage Requirements for ADA Compliance

Signage requirements for ADA:

  • Visual letters and tactile letters are required
  • Tactile letters must have accompanying grade II braille
  • Signs that are designed to be read by touch should not have sharp edges
  • Tactile (raised) lettering must be 1/32” in thickness
  • Tactile lettering must be featured in an easy to read sans-serif font with all uppercase letters
  • Minimum letter height: 5/8”
  • Maximum letter height: 2”
  • The bottom edge of tactile characters must be mounted 48” to 60” above the floor

Additional rules can be found here.

Choosing Materials for ADA Signage

Another important requirement of ADA compliant signage is a contrasting background to ensure that the visual text is easy to read. The most visible color combinations are white text on a black background or black text on a white background. ADA signs don’t always have to be featured in black and white, however. The use of contrasting colors is also a great way to ensure that the visual text is easy to see and read. Creating a contrasting background/foreground with textured materials like brushed aluminum or wood can also effectively help wayfinding and room signs stand out.

Acrylic ADA signs - Connecting Signs

ADA Environmental Signage Design Tips

Signage for accessible environmental design may seem simple with all the provided rules and requirements, but don’t be tricked into thinking it’s a simple task. A full ADA sign schedule can be complex and extensive. Here are some tips for designing ADA signs:

  • Use easy to read sans-serif fonts
  • Adjust text kerning to improve readability
  • Avoid complex imagery and photos
  • Be clear and specific with word choices
  • Create interesting shapes or match the interior design aesthetic by layering different acrylic backer panels
  • For wayfinding signs, lead the text with the corresponding directional arrow

Find the Right Sign Partner to Produce ADA Environmental Signage

The most important phase of getting environmental ADA signage planned and produced is partnering with a trusted and reputable sign company to design the layout, produce, and install the signs. A sign company that will guarantee their work and is flexible enough to ship and install anywhere in the country can be hard to find but luckily you’re reading a blog from one of the best! Request a quote here and get started on your ADA environmental sign project today!

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Understanding Compliant ADA Signs

college ada signs

Signage and the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was first signed into law on July 26, 1990. However, people with disabilities were fighting for inclusive and accessible spaces long before ADA became law. ADA signs are an integral part of compliant public and commercial spaces. There are specific rules to follow when creating your ADA sign plan. Rules like sign installation height and location, lettering height, braille, and color combinations are in place to create unity and continuity throughout public areas.

wood ADA sign

Rules for Compliant ADA Signs

Firstly, the lettering on ADA signs needs to be in a sans serif font and all the lettering needs to be uppercase. The width of ADA signs is dependent on the letting height. The minimum letter height for ADA signs is 5/8 of an inch while the maximum letter height is two inches. Lettering also needs to be featured in acrylic tactile that is at least 1/32 inch deep. Pictograms require an area six inches in height to be ADA compliant. Braille needs to be clear, domed, and grade II. Lastly, all the lettering and pictogram features need to be in a non-glare finish and must contrast with the backer of the sign.

Acrylic ADA signs

 

When Braille is Required for ADA Signs

Not every interior sign requires grade II braille. Only signs that designate permanent rooms and spaces like restroom signs, exit signs, room number signs, and elevator signs need compliant braille and uppercase lettering. Directional signs, wayfinding signs, and overhead signs do not require braille and are not required to have uppercase lettering. However, all of these types of signs must have materials with a non-glare finish and contrasting characters and symbols.

restroom ADA signs

How to Create Unique ADA signs

While there are a lot of rules and regulations attached to ADA compliant signage, there are still ways to incorporate creativity and uniqueness within an ADA sign project. Firstly, mixing contrasting colors and materials is a great way to make a statement. Utilizing a flatbed printer allows for acrylic to be printed with a unique design or a logo can also make a lasting impact. Keeping the different sign-types similar in design allows unifies the space and keeps confusion to a minimum.

custom ADA signs

Get Your ADA Signs Ordered Today

Don’t wait to order your required ADA signs! There’s a lot of time required to organize the sign schedule, design, manufacture, and install ADA signs. Request a quote from Connecting Signs today or give us a call at 970-493-0133 to speak with a member of our experienced staff to get your questions answered and your ADA sign project started!

Indoor Acrylic Signs - Connecting Signs

All About Indoor Acrylic Signs

Custom braille room signs

Interior-grade acrylic is one of the most common and affordable sign substrates available and is the perfect medium for indoor signs. Acrylic comes in different grades and thicknesses depending on what it will be used for and can easily be routed out into any shape or font. Acrylic has a nice smooth finish which makes it ideal for flatbed printing. Indoor acrylic signs can come in the form of way-finding directional signs, lobby area signs, reception desk signs, room identification signs and restroom signs.

 

 

 

Acrylic signs stand out as a preferred choice thanks in part to the material’s versatility, durability, and cost-effectiveness. Being available in lots of different colors and finishes allows for total control and customization! Acrylic is also stronger than glass, but half the weight. In the unfortunate event of a break, acrylic does not fracture like glass – acrylic fractures into big, dull-edged fragments. Maintaining and cleaning acrylic signs is very simple, although there is one rule: Never use abrasive liquids (like isopropyl alcohol) or ammonia-based detergents to clean acrylic signs. The best way to clean acrylic signs is to use a micro-fiber cloth and a mild detergent mixed with water.

Clear Acrylic Lobby Sign

Clear Acrylic Lobby Sign

Acrylic ADA Restroom Signs

Acrylic ADA Restroom Signs

While there is a lot of room for creativity in designing indoor acrylic signs, there’s also some rules that you might want to be aware of. Regulatory identification signs, like accessible restroom signs and room identification signs require a specific letter height/thickness, lettering color, background color, elevation, sign size, as well as grade II braille. These rules may seem restricting, but they’re intended to make public spaces more inclusive and accessible. On the plus side, simple and to-the-point is how to ensure that your message is seen and understood by the audience.

 

 

 

 

Getting your indoor acrylic signs started is simple from here! Follow this link to request a free quote, call Connecting Signs at 970-493-0133 for assistance in placing your sign order, or if you’re a Fort Collins local just stop by our showroom anytime!

ADA Sign Installation

The new U.S. Army Reserve Readiness and Training Center is located in Windsor, Colorado just a few miles from Connecting Signs.  Last spring the construction was completed on the facility that will be used for a base for part-time soldiers’ once-a-month drills and two-week-long annual training.  The sign company that was hired to create the indoor and outdoor signs for the building is located in Pelham, Georgia.  Installing the signs was not an option for the Georgia sign company because of the distance.  When they called us to see if we would be interested in doing the install, we accepted because it gives us more installation experience for indoor and outdoor signs and gets our name out there – more exposure!

Even though we are just doing the installation part of the project, it is still a lot of coordination and work to get on board of a complex project like this one for the US Army.

Involvement and project management included coordination with the general contractor, the sign company that produced all the signs, and finally the end customer – Army core of engineers.   The interior signs for the building were mostly ADA.  Read about the Americans with Disability Act.  When ADA signs are used for the interior of a building, not only are they made according to the ADA standards but they must be installed following the standards.  To be compliant with installation, standards must be followed for the height and location of signs.

The following interior signs were installed:

  • 112 total indoor ADA sign panels
  • Room signs, restroom, directional, exit, room identification, LEED
  • Directory cabinet
  • Rail mounted dimensional letters

The following exterior signs were installed:

  • Two sets – dimensional letters
  • LEED

It is very important to make sure our employees are safe when installing signs inside or outside buildings and especially if we are doing work for a government agency like this one.  Our employees are trained and certified by Osha – 10 which is the Occupational Safety & Health Administration 10 hour Construction Industry Outreach Training Program.  It is intended to provide an entry level construction worker’s general awareness on recognizing and preventing hazards on a construction site.  Our team also attended safety meetings at the site which covered specific safety concerns; mainly common sense be used.

If you’re needing installation of signs, this is another service that Connecting Signs provides.  As you have read, it takes a lot of knowledge, good team work and communication because of the all the people and jobs involved.  Give us a call 970-493-0133 and let’s talk about this additional service we offer – installation.

 

Northern Colorado interiors signs

Interior ADA Signs for New School

 

Creede, Colorado is a small town located in southwest Colorado about 315 miles from our shop in Fort Collins, Colorado.  The 2015 school year began with a lot of excitement in this little town because of a new school that was all ready for the students and staff to begin learning and teaching!  Connecting Signs was just as excited as the town of Creede to be able to work with The Neenan Company in Fort Collins, CO as they designed and constructed the new building.  We were very proud to provide all the interior signs for the school identifying classrooms, offices, special rooms and the division of the middle and high school with the elementary side.   Also, we made and installed the outdoor parking lot signs providing directions and information for the busy mornings and afternoons of a school parking lot.

There were a number of different styles:

ADA/Braille

  • Our CNC router/engraver cuts the raised lettering then the excess material is removed leaving the letters and any images.
  • The machine drills the holes for braille rasters (beads). With the raster braille insertion tool, we quickly and easily insert rasters on to the braille sign conforming to ADA rules.
  • After the signs are routed/engraved, we assembled the signs in a layered look.
  • Adding a brushed, aluminum detail trim piece to most of the signs giving them a unique look.
  • The classroom and office signs had a dark wood grain piece added with a clear window allowing for information to be added or changed easily.

Double sided restroom flag sign

Distinctive indoor dimensional letters

  • Brushed aluminum
  • Flush mounted

Outdoor parking lot signs

  • All with reflective finishes

Summer construction turns into fall learning!

Need ADA signs?  Do all the laws and regulations confuse you?  Take the worry out of the design and construction of your interior ADA signs and let Connecting Signs do the work.  We know the sizes, spacing, height and placement of ADA signs and we have the right equipment.  Call us 970-493-0133 for your project that requires ADA signage!

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Compliant ADA Signs- Just The Facts

ADA signage is everywhere now; a very common part of our lives.  This means a lot of us don’t really give the ADA much thought.  We know what it is and what it is for and that’s about it. However, there is a lot of history and interesting facts about how the ADA changed modern signage. The following gives an overview of how compliant ADA signs became the standard and why they’re so important.

signing of the ada 1990

The history of the ADA

The history of the ADA did not begin on July 26, 1990, at the signing ceremony at the White House. It did not begin in 1988 when the first ADA was introduced in Congress. The ADA story began a long time ago in cities and towns throughout the United States when people with disabilities began to challenge situations that excluded them from their communities. It began with the establishment of local groups to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. These groups started the independent living movement which provided services for people with disabilities to live and work in the community.

Braille Signs & ADA

ADA is sometimes misunderstood, as some people think it is the same thing as braille signs. Signs with braille and raised characters are the most visible display of the law requiring access to the built environment, but the sign standards in the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, or ADAAG, require much more than just braille and raised characters on some ADA signs.

Almost every sign that would be considered an “architectural” sign must comply with one or another of the ADA Guidelines. In other words, if a sign identifies a permanent room or space of a facility, including exits, directs or informs about functional spaces of the facility, or identifies, directs to, or informs about accessible features of the facility, it must comply.

Because of the rules requiring Braille on some signs, the signage section is looked upon as benefiting persons who are blind and visually impaired.  The guidelines also benefits people with mobility impairments or hearing impairments.

ada conference room sign

ADA Sign Requirements

Listed are areas of the ADA signs law that have requirements (dimensions, etc.); although, not describe in detail:

  • All ADA signs must have non-glare backgrounds and characters.
  • All ADA signs that contain visual characters must have a contrast between characters and their background.
  • All ADA signs must have “easy to read” lettering.
  • Directional and informational signs can use upper and lower case letters (recommended by many experts for visual readability), but I’ve also read characters should be uppercase. Use the sans-serf font and do not use an italic, oblique, script, or decorative type of characters.
  • Character height should be 5/8 inch minimum and 2-inch maximum.
  • Character spacing or kerning is required so that characters can be traced with fingers
  • ADA signs that identify rooms and spaces are to be located adjacent to the door they identify so they can be located by persons who are functionally blind. For the most part, one sign is used by both tactile and visual readers, so there are compromises to assist tactile readers. However, it is possible to use two separate signs with the same information.
  • Braille must accompany the characters (below the characters) and must be Contracted Braille (formerly called Grade II Braille). Look into the dimensions of the dot and location of the braille.
  • There is a standard for mounting requirements for ADA signs. Find out more about the latest codes.

ada sign symbols

There are Four ADA Symbols:

  • The “wheelchair symbol” is the International Symbol of Access used generally to show that persons with mobility impairments can access entrances, restrooms, or pathways.
  • The “ear” symbol is the International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss and is used to show the availability of an assistive listening system.
  • The “keyboard” symbol stands for a TTY or text telephone.
  • The “phone” symbol with sound waves stands for the availability of a volume-controlled phone.

So, why talk about all this and all the details that go along with being ADA compliant?  Because you can be fined for not complying:

Who Enforces ADA Requirements

The U.S. Department of Justice said it will increase the maximum civil penalty to $75,000 for violations of ADA provisions requiring restaurants, movie theaters, schools and other businesses open to the public to be accessible and accommodate people with disabilities.  For any subsequent offenses, the fine will jump to $150,000 from a prior cap of $110,000, federal officials said.

Your ADA Sign Experts

Here’s the good thing – just call us! We not only design, make, and install signs but we understand the requirements with a lot of signage; especially ADA! Here’s another good thing – we love making ADA signs.  Our router and engraver produces beautiful signage for your indoor office, lobby and throughout your entire building.  Give us a call today at 970-493-0133 or request a free estimate on your ADA signs right here!