Things to Know About ADA-Compliant Signs

What are the ADA Signs?

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was signed into law back in 1990 by then-President George H. Bush. This act stated that every American citizen has equal opportunity in every area of employment, including those with disabilities. This act also emphasized the use of ADA-compliant signs having raised letters and Grade 2 Braille for those Americans who were blind or dealing with significant visual impairment. It specified the type and height of letters, color, mounting locations, and more.

ADA-compliant signs are a common type of signage found in different buildings and facilities throughout the US; they help people who are blind have low-vision navigate more easily. An example is a wheelchair sign for elevators designated for a particular use. This signage also benefits people without any impairment to act as a directional sign.

Kinds of ADA Signs

Custom ADA signs come in various types and have different uses according to the purpose for which they were made. Some of the most common ADA-compliant signs are:

  • Elevator or stairway signs
  • Wheelchair sign
  • Restroom signs
  • Exit and no smoking signs
  • Emergency exit signs
  • Job title signs (Manager, Vice President, CEO, etc)
  • Directional signs (left, right, etc.)
  • Room type signs (lounge, lab, conference room, etc.)

These are just a few common types of ADA-compliant signs. There are others signs for particular locations, for indicating that there is a drinking fountain in a park, etc.

What makes a Sign ADA-Compliant?

Most people associate custom ADA signage with just braille, but there is more to ADA compliance than that. While signs with braille are one of the most distinguishable features of them being ADA-compliant, there are other regulations that make the signs compatible with the ADA. A few guidelines for ADA-compliant signs are

No Glare: Apart from parking or traffic signs, regulations for ADA-compliant signs state that the background or characters used in them should not create any glare. People with visual impairments or the elderly are not able to take such glare very well.

Contrast: The backgrounds and characters in a sign must have very light to dark color contrast to be clearly seen by visually-impaired people who are not blind.

Easy to Read: The typeface used in a custom ADA sign must be easy to read, with the fonts as plain as possible with enough space in between.

Font Size and Case: The upper and lower cases should be correct according to the signage used; for instance, a directional sign can use both upper and lower case. The font size is determined based on the location where a reader is expected to be positioned.

Placement of Identification Signs: The ADA requires all room identification signs to be placed appropriately to make it easy for people to locate them. The main purpose for them is for functionally-blind people to be able to find doors and get information on where they lead.

Other Rules For Sign Placement

Along with knowing where to install a custom ADA sign, another important aspect is knowing how many signs need to be mounted. A few guidelines should be kept in mind while mounting an ADA-sign in any public facility:

  • ADA-compliant signs must be installed on the latch side of the door to the room
  • ADA signs should not be lower than 48 inches from the floor and no higher than 60 inches above the floor
  • If there is not enough space available for the signs to be mounted from a particular location, they should be installed on the adjacent wall where they are clearly visible
  • ADA signs must not be installed directly on the doors

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