Signs are everywhere; they communicate to us on the roads, in the classroom, at work, and at the businesses we frequent. Any building with public access will have signs all over, from bathroom signs to direction signs and everything in between. But with a general building, signs must be in compliance with the ADA. Otherwise, you could suffer fines and penalties for lack of accessibility. This article will discuss the ins and outs of ADA-compliant signage and how to make sure that your buildings are and remain compliant.
What is ADA Signage?
The ADA is also known as the Americans with Disabilities Act, a collection of federal laws that prohibits discrimination against those in the disabled community. The ADA covers all sorts of areas, from employment to education and even signage in public spaces and buildings. ADA laws require ADA-compliant room signs in every permanent room and space in and around a building so that those with disabilities can understand where they are at all times.
The four types of ADA-compliant signage are identification, informational, directional, and overhead signs. Identification signs name or label a specific area, like a bathroom. Informational signs give the rules for a space, such as a no smoking sign. Directional signs provide directions to other spaces, such as signs showing the way to the nearest bathroom. Overhead signs are any sign that hangs from the ceiling or is mounted 80 inches or higher about the floor.
Why is ADA Compliance Important?
ADA compliance is a legal requirement for any permanent establishment, and giving access to those who are disabled is necessary to support everyone’s quality of life. Knowing what makes an ADA-compliant sign will help you ensure that the signs you order from fabricators and manufacturers are legally compliant. There are many reasons why ADA compliance is essential when handling the signage in your building. Here are a few things required to ensure that your signs comply with ADA regulations.
A no-glare finish is a requirement for an ADA-compliant sign. Those with impaired vision struggle with glare and reflections. For a no-glare sign, you will need to use a matte, eggshell, or other non-glare finish on your signs. We do non-glare for all ADA signs.
Another aspect of an ADA-compliant sign is the high contrast level. The contrast between the letters and the background of a compliant sign must be high enough to be readable for those with vision impairments. 70% contrast is the industry standard used to ensure there is enough contrast. Color is not essential if the contrast between the lettering and background is stark enough.
Typeface, Size, and Spacing Requirements
There are also plenty of typeface, size, and spacing requirements that are required of ADA-compliant signs. These are also part of making sure that a sign is legible and readable to those with vision impairments. Many acceptable typefaces are allowed, but the ones most often used are Verdana, Helvetica, and Futura. Signs must be a sans-serif font. No bold is allowed. There is a maximum halo on the stroke.
ADA-compliant signs must have characters measured from base to tip between 5/8 of an inch to two inches tall. The lettering size on an ADA-compliant sign is based on the expected distance of a reader to the sign; the farther away the reader is expected to be, the larger the letters.
Ensure that your spacing is appropriate for an ADA sign to ensure compliance. There must be proper spacing between letters and words. Individual characters must be separated by at least an eighth of an inch, and at maximum, it can be four times the character stroke-width.
Another requirement for an ADA-compliant sign is the presence of braille writing. Braille is essential, as it allows access to the blind and those who cannot see at all. Braille must be on all identification signs. For an ADA-compliant sign, you must use the Grade 2 braille type. We have to use CA grade 2 braille.
There are a lot of other technical specifications for braille on ADA signs. The dot base diameter needs to be between .059 and .063 inches. The distance between two dots in the same cell must be 0.1 inches away from each other center to center. When measured center to center, the distance between corresponding dots in adjacent cells must be between .241 and .3 inches away. Dot height must be between .025 and .037 inches. Distance between connected dots from one cell directly below must be 395 and .4 inches away when measured center to center.
Some ADA requirements relate directly to mounting signs in permanent buildings and spaces. The goal of these requirements is that every sign is placed in a convenient and logical spot that is easy to locate and read.
Any identifying sign labeling a space or room should be placed next to the door they are marking. Braille and lines of tactile copy must be positioned at least 48 inches and no more than 60 inches from the floor or ground.
Special Requirements by Industry
In addition to all these requirements that ring true regardless of the sign’s location, there are more regulations specific to different industries that are also legally binding and must be accepted for ADA compliance.
There must be signs for all the different rooms that a hospital contains. There must be ADA-compliant signs for waiting rooms, common rooms, numbered patient rooms, directional signs, restroom signs, authorized personnel only signs, no smoking signs, no cell phone signs, emergency equipment signs, emergency exit signs, hand washing signs, HIPAA reminder signs, and many others, including accessible parking signs.
Offices and Commercial Buildings
Offices and commercial buildings must also remain dedicated to accessibility for disabled persons. Offices and commercial buildings must have ADA-compliant signage for numbered offices, numbered conference rooms, accessible parking, loading zones, shipping areas, restrooms, fitting rooms, waiting rooms, emergency equipment, emergency exits, alarms, elevators, employee-only zones, no smoking signs, ATMs, telephones, directional signage, and break area signs.
For restaurants, there must be ADA-compliant signage for primary entrances and exits, emergency exits, bathrooms, accessible parking spaces, no smoking signs, designated smoking area signs, authorized personnel only signs, hand washing signs, and maximum capacity signs.
In grocery stores, there must be specific considerations for ADA-compliant signage. An ADA compliant grocery store needs overhead signs that are secure and adequately sized for overhead placement, accessible parking, primary entrances and exits, emergency equipment signs, alarms, bathroom signs, employee-only signs, high contrast signs for bakery, deli, and butcher counters, telephones, ATMs and loading, and delivery docks.
And finally, manufacturing facilities have unique requirements as well. ADA-compliant manufacturing facilities must have signs in outbound and inbound delivery docks, PPE storage and apparel reminders, vehicle speed limit signs, signs near all machines and tools, equipment and control panels, emergency equipment, emergency exits, alarms, no smoking and smoking designated areas, common rooms, offices, elevators, locker rooms, and restrooms.
To find the ADA-compliant signs that your company needs, get a quote from us.