Americans with disabilities live on every street. 26 percent of American adults live with some sort of disability. 13 percent have trouble with mobility, while four percent have a vision problem.
The Americans with Disabilities Act helps them navigate through public spaces. One way it does this is through ADA compliant signs. If you are running an essential business, you need to find signage that helps all types of people.
What are the regulations you need to follow? How do they apply to hanging signs? What are braille and pictograms and how should you use them?
Answer these questions and you can help the people with disabilities in your neighborhood. Here is your quick guide.
ADA Compliance Regulations
Every space that is permanent or has a doorway requires ADA compliant signage. All government facilities must follow the ADA. Public accommodations like stores, places of lodging, and warehouses must be compliant as well.
Signs must have strongly contrasting colors, like white on black. They cannot produce a glare that disorients people with weak vision.
The sign can contain text and images. The text should be in a sans serif or serif font such as Helvetica. The information should be simple without complicated or excessive details.
If a sign is at a door, it should go alongside the door at its latch. It should not go on the door itself unless there is no other space to place it.
Not all signs are subject to ADA regulations. Temporary signs like menus do not have to meet their requirements. But companies should still make a good effort to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.
Signs can hang from the wall or ceiling. But they should not protrude into the walkway.
Hanging signs should be at least 80 inches above the floor. Ones projecting from walls should not protrude four inches out.
Areas that are inaccessible should have signage directing away from the area. They should indicate where the closest accessible entrance is.
A business must place a sign outside of an elevator. Within the elevator, there should be signs marking floor numbers and control buttons.
Braille is a reading system made of raised dots. Nearly all signs should have braille on them, though the ADA does not require it for all signage. Your signs should also have raised letters that people can follow with their fingertips.
Braille and raised letters must be 48 to 60 inches off the floor. The dots that make up characters should have a round or domed shape. They should not be flat, pointed, or tough to touch.
Tactile characters and decorative elements should be at least three-eighths of an inch away from braille ones. You should avoid having raised borders on your signage since that may confuse someone trying to read.
You should keep descriptions and instructions to the point. One-word descriptions like “restroom” suffice.
Pictograms are small symbols that indicate an important feature. Most ADA signs require at least one pictogram.
The International Symbol of Accessibility shows a person in a wheelchair. This symbolizes that a feature is accessible for everyone. Nearly all common areas must have this sign on exterior doors.
The International Symbol of TTY identifies a public telephone or teletypewriter. If a building has one, you must hang a sign with the International Symbol facing outside.
A volume control telephone allows people with impaired hearing to adjust the volume coming from the receiver. Many businesses do not have one, but the ones that do should hang a sign with a pictogram of a telephone.
The same goes for locations that have an assistive listening system. They must hang an exterior-facing sign with the International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss.
Exit, safety device, and restroom signage should all contain pictograms. They should lie in the center of the sign and be clear to see from a distance.
Tips When Making Signs
Congress passes new ADA regulations on a regular basis. Check the news and see what the latest laws are before making your company signs.
Find a company with a history of making ADA compliant signage. Talk to them about their experience and how they adjust their methods to help people with disabilities.
Talk to people with disabilities about the qualities of signage that they like. Try to include as many as possible into yours.
You don’t need to make your signs too big. A four-by-four inch sign works fine to indicate a bathroom or inaccessible space.
When you are in doubt about regulations, err on the side of caution. Include braille characters and pictograms.
After you hang up your signs, do an inspection of them. Make sure they are visible from a distance and accessible up close. Run your fingers over the tactile surfaces and determine if they are easy to touch.
Clean the floors around them. Check to see that the flooring itself is even.
You can hang up other things around your ADA signs, like promotional posters. But make sure the wall is not too cluttered. Too many materials can confuse people with impaired vision.
Get Your Perfect ADA Compliant Signs
Creating ADA compliant signs does not have to be hard. Your signage should have contrasting colors and clear serif text. Hanging and projecting signs should not interfere with walkway access.
Braille and tactile characters should be several feet off the floor. They should contain short descriptions of important features. Exit and restroom signage should have pictograms depicting the room.
Find someone near you with experience in ADA compliance to make your signs. Talk to people with disabilities and incorporate their suggestions.
Make your building as accessible as possible. Follow our coverage for more business and disability guides.