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stairwell ada sign

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

 

 

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!

an example of ada signs that is compliant

Compliant ADA Signs- Just The Facts

ADA signage is everywhere now; a very common part of our lives.  Which 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.  There are 3 types of people in our society that know a lot and think about the ADA everyday:  1) the disabled, 2) business owners and 3) sign makers

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.

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 has guidelines that benefit persons with mobility impairments or hearing impairments.

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 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 2 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.

There are four symbols:

  • The “wheelchair symbol” is 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.

Check out these articles that I think are very helpful and go into more detail:

1) ADA Homepage

2) Reasons for not being ADA compliant

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:

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.

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.  970-493-0133