A Quick Reference Guide to ADA Signage for Business Owners | Signs By Tomorrow Blog


A Quick Reference Guide to ADA Signage for Business Owners | Signs By Tomorrow Blog

A Quick Reference Guide to ADA Signage for Business Owners

In 1990 the US government enacted the American with Disabilities Act. The legislation ensures people with disabilities have the same access to public facilities as people who are not disabled. Buildings must adhere to several requirements, including the usage of ADA signs. The government takes compliance very seriously. Failure to meet these requirements can result in fines, penalties and lawsuits. Fortunately, there are a few rules of thumb you can follow that can help you design signage that's compliant. Read the quick reference guide below to steer you in the right direction.

An Overview of ADA

Advocacy groups fought for equal access for people with disabilities. This resulted in the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act being passed in July 1990. In 2011, the Act became federal law. This ensures that public buildings provide disabled individuals with easy access to these structures. As a business owner, your signage falls under these federal guidelines, so it's important that your signs comply with ADA regulations.

An Overview of ADA Sign Requirements

There are a couple of misconceptions about ADA signage guidelines. One, there's a common belief that all building signs must adhere to ADA requirements. This is simply not the case. The following signs are exempt:

  • Logo signs
  • Temporary signs
  • Marketing or advertising signs
  • Signs with your company name

Additionally, many people believe that an ADA sign only refers to Braille signage. While Braille signs fall under that umbrella, they aren't the only signs that must meet the requirements. The intent of ADA is to ensure signage is not only easy for disabled people to see and touch but also to determine the function of a room in a public space. For instance, if you have bathrooms that are wheelchair accessible, you must put up a sign with that information.

The Importance of ADA Signage Requirements

There are several reasons why it is a good idea to take ADA requirements into consideration when designing your signage. Perhaps the most important reason is that it's the law. Any violations of this law result can result in fines. The worst case scenario is that your business can be shut down.

A second reason is that ADA compliance helps create a safe environment for customers and employees. With the proper signage in place, everyone can easily identify exits in case of an emergency.

The third reason is that it helps individuals avoid dangerous situations. Specifically, ADA compliant safety signs provide people with proper warning, so they can avoid entering certain areas of a building. This is especially true if you own a business that handles hazardous or poisonous materials.

The fourth reason why ADA signage matters is that it can boost your business growth. A building that provides access to the disabled allows you to appeal to a larger consumer base and employee talent pool.

Finally, signs that are compliant with ADA regulations are good PR for your company. It sends the right message that you welcome all people. This leaves a positive impression on patrons and employees. ADA signs go a long way to making all people feel welcomed into your building.

ADA Size and Space Requirements

A major component of designing ADA compliance signs is making sure they are easy for people to read and touch. Because of this, sign placement is important. A sign located above a door must be at least 80 inches off the floor. Do you have doors that swing outward? If so, mount the sign next to the doors. Place signs on inward swinging doors, if certain requirements are met. An example is automatic doors that close with a "hold open" button. Does your sign have Braille or raised text? If so, place the sign on the side where the latch is located.

The characters on the sign must be between 48 to 60 inches off the floor. Text height is between 5/8 to two inches. In the case of pictograms, there aren't any height requirements. As a general rule, a minimum of four to four and a half inches is a good place to start. With Braille, a minimum of 3/8 inches is needed on every side of the Braille.

ADA Text Requirements

Raised letters is a must for ADA signs, except for overhead signage. Otherwise, make sure the letters are easy for the visually impaired to read. This involves using raised letters that are between 5/8 to two inches in height. Make sure these letters are placed beside Braille text.

You can design an easy-to-read sign by avoiding scripts and italics. Instead, use san serif fonts in a bold or medium weight. Take note that all tactile signs require uppercase letters. However, overhead signs, directional signs and directories only need lowercase letters. The fonts that meet ADA guidelines include the following:

  • Helvetica
  • Trebuchet
  • Future
  • Verdana
  • Eras
  • Vag rounded
  • Optima
  • Franklin Gothic
  • Avant-garde
  • Frutiger

Contrast also helps with sign readability. If you have dark text, use a light background. In turn, you can use light fonts on a dark background. Apply the same design principle to your pictograms, such as images indicating gender for your restrooms. Make sure the sign has a non-glare surface. This way there won't be any light reflected that can hinder readability. A sign company can help you create a visually appealing sign.

ADA Braille Requirements

Braille text must always use rounded dots, not squared. Capitalization is an important feature for Braille. ADA requires lowercase letters are in lowercase. However, the following is a list of exceptions:

  • Initials
  • Acronyms
  • Proper names
  • Before the first word of a sentence
  • Letters that are part of a room number (e.g., 708A)

Braille dot size and spacing requirements vary from state-to-state. Some states, such as California, have requirements that are stricter than what the federal government mandates. Common dimensions include 2010 ADA and ANSI A117.1 standards. It's recommended that you check with your state regarding the correct measurements.

Get an Attractive ADA Compliant Sign for Your Business

ADA compliant signs help you better serve and expand your client base. Following the requirements can make your customers and employees feel more welcome in your business establishment. If you need to update your current signage or need a new sign, contact Signs By Tomorrow. Our experts can answer your questions and help you design eye-catching signage that's ADA Compliant.