What Constitutes ADA Compliant Signage?

Legendary Custom Signs

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, more commonly referred to as the ADA, has signage rules in place for public buildings. Their regulations help ensure that people who have disabilities, especially those with visual impairments, can easily find and read signs.

But if you need ADA compliant signage, what rules do you need to abide by? Here, we help you better understand what constitutes ADA compliant signage as well as how you gain compliance to not only better serve your customers, but to avoid fines (yes, you can be fined for not having ADA compliant signs!).

What Businesses Need ADA Compliant Signs?

Generally, any public building needs to have ADA signage. The signs that display your name and business logo won’t need to be ADA compliant, but signs indicating exits, stairwells, restrooms, and elevators must be in compliance.

The address of your building, parking, and any promotional signs are exempt from ADA compliant signage. However, any permanent room within your building—meaning a room with a designated purpose, such as a classroom or meeting room—needs to have ADA compliant signs.

But what are the rules when it comes to proper signage for these areas? These regulations can be broken up into a few categories.

Text and Font Requirements

For all signs that include braille—which needs to be used on all permanent room signs—the text you use must be completely uppercase. This is also true for exit signs. For signs that are primarily for visual, not tactile, purposes, you can use a combination of uppercase and lowercase characters.

Characters must have at least 1/8 of an inch separating them to make them easier to read. In addition, all tactile signs must have characters raised a minimum of 1/32 inch and utilize grade two braille, which is essentially an abbreviated version of grade one.

For fonts, you can only use medium or bold sans serif fonts. Italics are not allowed. Examples of good fonts to use include Franklin Gothic, Helvetica, Future, Avant Garde, Trebuchet, and Verdana.

Pictograms for Specific Signs

Some signs are required to have pictograms when it comes to ADA signage. For example, restrooms and non-smoking signs must have a symbol, or picture, to accompany the text and braille. Areas where there are phones are also required to have pictures.

The background containing the picture, text, and braille must be a minimum of six inches high. While other areas in your building aren’t required to have pictograms, you can choose whether or not your signage could use pictures to better assist your clients.

Size Matters

Any tactile signs identifying permanent rooms must be at least 48 inches off the ground but not more than 60 inches to the highest character. Any directional signs, such as overhead or exit signs, need to be at least 27 inches from the floor but no more than 80 inches.

The size of your characters on your sign matters too—they must be at least 5/8 inches tall but no larger than two inches, depending on the distance that others will be reading your sign. Generally, each line of text needs to have a minimum of two inches of room.

Color and Contrast

When it comes to the color of your signs, they must have a high contrast, meaning there must be a lighter text and pictures on a darker background, or vice versa. You also can’t have any type of glare on your signs in the building, as these make them more difficult to read.

Where to Place ADA Compliant Signs

Where you place your signs also matters when it comes to ADA compliance. For permanent rooms signs with braille, they must be placed on the side of the door that has the latch. If you have double doors with a single latch, the sign must be on the side that typically remains closed.

If you have double doors that are both used, the sign needs to be placed to the right of the right door. If there’s no space for the sign at these locations, the sign needs to be placed at the nearest neighboring wall.

Does Your Building Need ADA-Compliant Signage?

If your building needs ADA compliant signage but you’re not sure what you need to avoid fines and better serve your clients, we can help. At Legendary Customs Signs & Graphics, we design custom signage based on your needs. We’re well-versed in ADA guidelines to keep your business safe, functional, and accommodating to everyone. Contact us today at (571) 512-7446!


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