environmental graphics university mascot wall mural

All about Environmental Graphics for Schools and Universities

The next time you’re in a public space or building, take a look around you. Notice the ways that people are interacting with the interior space and how the interior environmental design aids them while they get to where they need to be. Signage is a major component of environmental design because it’s necessary for guiding the public to their desired destinations. Educational institutions like schools and universities are a good example of an industry that needs effective environmental design. The following will detail the reasons why this is and how to achieve an effective signage plan for the education sector.

custom ada kitchen sign

custom wood ada wall sign

 Suggested Sign Types for a Large Campus

A school or college is a great example of a type of firm that absolutely needs interior signs to help guide foot traffic. A multitude of people will interact with the physical space, so directional (wayfinding) signs are a necessity. ADA room signs including restroom identification signs with braille and tactile lettering are required as well as signs that designate a stairwell or elevator. An overhead sign (suspended from the ceiling) designating important areas of the building could be useful as well when the hallways are packed with students and visibility is low.

overhead wayfinding sign

wayfinding sign inserts

Why Schools Need Effective Signage

Schools are a prime example of a space that is heavily utilized by people who are walking to their next class or appointment. Effective signage is needed to help new people unfamiliar with the building navigate and helps to remind people of where they are in the building. In the unfortunate case of an emergency, signage is extremely important to guide people to safety. If you’re in the planning stages of creating a comprehensive sign schedule, the best way to ensure that the signs will be effective is to keep the wording and designs simple and to-the-point.

custom wall collage mural

university conference room wall display

Signage and Environmental Graphics

So far, we’ve gone over the ways that functional and regulatory signage impacts and assists in navigation and informational purposes. However, signage can also be used to showcase and increase brand awareness and recognition with lobby signs and reception area signs. With the numerous options in materials, finishes, textures, and illumination, you’re bound to find something that fits your brand perfectly. Donor recognition wall displays are a very popular way to show your organization’s supporters how much you appreciate their support. Again, there are many options and ways to do this and it’s intuitive enough to realize that the more complex your display is, the more expensive it will be.

university environmental graphics wall sign

University dimensional logo wall sign

How to Get Started

A great way to get the creative and planning process started for implementing environmental graphics is to contact Connecting Signs, a nationwide, full-service sign company based in Fort Collins, Colorado. We love working with local businesses, big and small, as well as general contractors. Click here to request a free consultation and estimate on environmental graphics of all kinds. From ADA-compliant room identification signage to oversized wall graphics, we do it all!

Printed ADA Room Signs - Connecting Signs

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.

custom ADA signs - Connecting Signs

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.

ada room signs - Connecting Signs

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!

stairwell ada sign - Signage Company - Connecting Signs

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.


Signs that identify a room, space or area.


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


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



custom braille signs - Signage Company - Connecting Signs

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.



custom ADA signs - Connecting Signs

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!

abstract sign design - Connecting Signs

Sign Design Basics

Graphic design is the process of communicating and problem solving using visual symbols, typography, photography, illustration, and layout principles. Graphic design for signage is purely functional as each sign is meant for a specific purpose. Some signs are created specifically for advertising purposes and some are created to answer frequently asked questions. If you’re interested in designing your own signs, there are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind. The following points about sign design are based on the past experiences of working with multiple businesses, clients, and other graphic designers.

Appreciate Your Audience

clapping hands

Before you even start your sign design, put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Understand that they may not be as informed as you about your business so you may need to consider simplifying your sign design. Consider how your sign will look to someone who has no idea what your business does. How do you ensure that your message is understood? Be specific, be direct, and always keep it simple! Another important part of understanding your audience is knowing how they will be viewing your sign. Will they be driving past your sign at 75 MPH on the highway? That means that your audience will have one or two seconds to understand your message so plan your design accordingly.

Pick the Right Type of File

typing hands

The most frequently asked question from clients looking to send their own artwork is: “What type of file do you prefer?”. The preferred file-type is almost always a .PDF but it sometimes depends on what type of sign the client is ordering. If you’re using a software program to create your artwork, make sure you’re using a professional design tool like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Further, understanding the difference between raster and vector graphics is vital especially for large format digitally printed signs.

Understand the Difference Between Raster and Vector Graphicsraster vs vector logo


Raster graphics are images that cannot be enlarged without pixelation occurring. They can be edited with special software applications like Adobe Photoshop, but you will need to have a good understanding of how resolution works. Raster graphics are usually small files that are ideal for photographic prints and website imagery. Vector graphics are graphics that are defined shapes with lines and points. Vector graphics can be enlarged to any size and printed without any trouble. Vector-based graphics are also the only way to create cut vinyl decals as the digital plotter needs to read the lines and points within the file to plot them out onto the sheet of vinyl.

Use Contrasting Colors

colorful photo

Ensure that your message is clear and attracts attention by using contrasting colors for the background and foreground. From our learned experience, the best color combinations for signage is a black background and white text or white background and black text. The worst color combinations are lightly-hued text on a lightly-hued background or dark-tinted text on a dark background. Color theory explains how primary colors mix together to create secondary colors, and how different combinations of those colors become intermediate colors. Understanding color theory, color schemes, and how colors affect people psychologically is a good idea if you’re designing multiple signs that need to have a cohesive design.

Choose Easy to Read Fonts

wooden letter stamps

Another important part of sign design is selecting the appropriate font to feature your text in. The general rule is to keep the number of fonts to a minimum and to not use more than two different fonts in one design. Sans Serif fonts are easier to read than Serif fonts when it comes to signage; this is why highway signage always features sans serif fonts. Consider the hierarchy of information in your sign. What do you want your audience to do if they need your product or service? Having a bold, upper case call-to-action could be the best way to get them to take a desired action.

Utilize Negative Space

beach scene

Too much text, photos, and graphics will actually deter people from your advertisement. It might seem like a good idea to include as much information as possible on a sign, but that can lead to a cluttered design which overwhelms the viewer and leads to information being overlooked or ignored. Negative space (intentional blank space) in a sign design layout helps the reader understand the message being communicated by singling out vital information and giving the reader’s eyes a break.

Always be Aware of the Rules

discussion hands

Some types of signs, like ADA restroom signs, are required for public and commercial spaces. There are a lot of rules for the design of interior ADA signs, like the letter height and pictogram design. Ensure that your signs are compliant by following ADA sign guidelines. Further, be aware of the local sign code for large exterior signs, like illuminated channel letters, to ensure that you don’t waste money by buying a non-compliant sign that will be removed (at your cost).


college ada signs - Connecting Signs

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!

brushed metal door wrap - Connecting Signs

Brushed Metal Door Wrap

Brushed Metal Door Wrap Tuft Construction & Development is in Denver, Colorado.  The company provides preconstruction, construction management, general contracting, and design services to ground-up residential and commercial projects.  Visit their website and as you browse through pictures of their projects, you will be impressed with their creativity and “out-of-the-box” thinking. 

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:


  • 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!