How to Design ADA Compliant Signs

The Value of ADA Signage

ADA Exit SignProper ADA signage in public spaces is required by The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to help ensure that persons with visual, hearing, or other sensory disabilities are able to locate and read them easily, either visually or through braille or tactile touch (raised letters). In addition to improving mobility and independence for these individuals, ADA signage also supports safety in public places by ensuring that entrances and exits are clearly marked, visible, and distinguishable from other rooms.

The Basics of ADA Signage

According to the ADA, signs that must be ADA compliant include, but are not limited to, the following:

a) All informational signs (for example “Employees Only”)

b) All directional signs (for example “Exit to Lobby”)

c) All overhead signs (for example “Elevators”)

d) Signs that identify permanently dedicated rooms that will not change function, such as a lunch room, conference room, restroom, or closet

e) Signs highlighting the location of building floors, stairwells, and all exit levels

f) All restroom signs

ADA Signage Requirements

While there are many universal ADA signage requirements, it is important to check individual state laws that may have sign modifications or additional standards.

Where are ADA signs required?

ADA signs are required throughout all public access and employee areas.

Do ADA signs require braille or tactile letters?

ADA Lactating Room SignADA signs must include braille and tactile (raised) letters. Braille letters must be Grade 2 (shorthand braille), rounded/domed, and lowercase (other than proper nouns, letters that are part of a room number, initials, acronyms, or before the first word of sentences) and include a minimum 3/8 inch clearance on all sides. Tactile lettering must be 1/32 inch raised capital letters.

Since braille is a translation of words, signs that depict symbols or pictograms ONLY do not require braille.

Are there additional lettering specifications for ADA signs?

ADA signs must use sans-serif or other plain text and include spacing of 1/8 inch between adjoining characters for easy readability. Text height must be between 5/8 and 2 inches and printed in medium or bold font.

What makes ADA signs easily visible?

ADA signs must be made of high contrasting colors (dark/light or light/dark) for easy readability. Additionally, all signs (other than traffic and reflective parking signs) must have non-glare backgrounds and characters.

What symbols are ADA-approved for use on signage?

ADA signs may include any of the four approved accessibility symbols for pictograms:

a) Wheelchair, symbolizing mobility

b) An ear, signifying the availability of an assistive listening device

c) Keyboard, representing a text telephone (TTY)

d) Phone symbol with sound waves, representing the availability of a volume control phone

Pictograms must include a 6 inch high background area with nothing inside other than one of the four approved symbols described above.

a)Text descriptions are required for signs that include a pictogram and label rooms or spaces
*Signs with pictograms that provide information about a space do not require text.

b) Tactile text should be directly under pictogram

c) Braille text should be directly under tactile letters

Does the ADA have special installation requirements?

The ADA lists specific installation requirements, depending on the type of sign. Generally, ADA room identification signs must be placed next to the doors they refer to, mounted between 48 inches, measured from the bottom of the lowest tactile character, and 60 inches, measured from the bottom of the highest tactile character, from the ground.

What is required for ADA parking signs?

All ADA parking signs must include the International Symbol of Accessibility, or “Wheelchair Symbol.” Signs need to be mounted a minimum of 60 inches from the floor measured from the bottom of the sign. Spaces set aside for vans must include the additional text “Van Accessible.”

For a comprehensive guide to all ADA regulations, please visit www.ADA.gov.

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At CustomSigns.com, our Customer Focus Team is here to help determine your signage needs and answer any questions you may have along the way. Additionally, we make it easy for you to design your own ADA signs that meet current regulatory ADA standards.

See our other ADA blogs:

ADA Signage All Buildings Must Have
Where Should ADA Signs be Posted

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