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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.

 

 

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!

business storefront signs - Connecting Signs

Complete Storefront Sign Package

Need Signs for Your Business?

Rain for Rent is a leading provider of temporary liquid handling solutions.  It is family owned and operated since 1934; serving all 50 states, Canada, the UK and Europe. Read more about this company here. Connecting Signs has been working with this business for a little over a year and have done some work locally (northern Colorado) and nationally. We have provided everything from vehicle decals to dimensional signage for the company.

Explore the photos and descriptions of the different storefront signs for this fast, expanding company!  

Greeley, Colorado signs:

fleet truck graphics

Stockton, California storefront signs:

Illuminated building sign

Charlotte, North Carolina storefront signs:

monument sign

  • Monument Sign (flush face)

Connecting Signs is proud to partner with Rain for Rent for all their storefront sign needs here locally and across the country! How do we do make a sign for their out of state locations?  We partner with excellent sign companies and installers that we trust and depend on to get the job done to our expectations which meets our customer’s expectation!  Our contact at the North Carolina location was thrilled at how quick and easy the job went – especially since we are over a thousand miles from the job site!

Any kind of signage; anywhere! Get started by requesting a quote or Call us 970-493-0133 for your all of your signage needs – local, statewide, and nationwide.

Cabinet monument sign - Connecting Signs

How to get a high R.O.I. on your business signs