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Fundamentals of ADA-Compliant Signage Designs – A Quick Guide to ADA Compliance


There are stringent ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)laws and requirements to ensure proper construction compliance if you’re developing signs and graphics that identify a room or space in hotels, restaurants, workplaces, and schools, among other structures. 

  • What is ADA-Compliant Signage? 
  • What is the purpose of ADA laws? 

Let’s understand the Fundamentals of ADA Compliant Signage Designs. 

What is the ADA? 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal statute that protects people with disabilities from discrimination. It’s a thorough regulation with a lot of specifics on how to make the public sector more accessible and inclusive. Government employees and agencies are included in the Disabilities Act with two main areas of concern, equal employment opportunities, and business accessibility. 

People with physical or mental disabilities struggled for decades to integrate into society. Access to particular areas, employment, and equal rights were all hampered by physical and societal hurdles for people with disabilities. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) become law on July 26th, 1990, and has been in effect for nearly two decades, with important amendments approved in 2010. Compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (SAD) has been made mandatory and enforced at the federal level. 

What is ADA-Compliant Signage? 

Tactile signs and symbols that identify permanent rooms and spaces in public areas are referred to as ADA signage. Raised pictures, pictograms, braille, and letters are examples of these signs. The size, height, font size, and location of the signs are all part of the ADA signage regulations. 

Since visual impairments are considered a hindrance under the ADA, there are special signage rules. Wall Mounted, Ceiling Mounted, and Projected are the three types of indoor signage. Identification of permanent room signs, Directional signs, and Informational signs are all covered within the Wall Mounted category. Directional and information signs are included in the Ceiling or Projected Mounted category.  

Courts have the authority to award monetary damages of up to $75,000 for the first ADA violation and up to $150,000 for each successive violation in such proceedings. 

Types of ADA Compliant Signs 

1. Identification

Signs that indicate a certain space, location, or zone are known as identification signs. 

2. Instructive

Signs that provide a framework for a specific room or area are referred to as Instructive signs. 

3. Wayfinding

Signs that regulate traffic flows and assist guests in navigating to and within a building are known as directional or wayfinding signs. 

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Fundamentals of ADA Compliant Signage Designs 

ADA Compliant Signs 

To be considered ADA compliant, signs must be very specific in design and must be posted at specific heights and locations. The goal is to achieve a universal standard of accessible design so that people with disabilities can find what they need in any public accommodation, regardless of location. 

Let’s look at some vital fundamentals of ADA Compliance  

  • There are three sections to the ADA guidelines for Permanent Room Identification signs. Sign composition, sign mounting, and sign finish and contrast are all important considerations 
  • Sign Finish must be in eggshell, matte, or non-glare 
  • Characters should contrast with the background 
  • Pictograms should have a field height of a minimum of 6 feet and shall not share a field with Braille or any other raised elements 
  • The typeface is also chosen in terms of size. The tactile letters should have a thickness of 1/32″. The lettering should be in capital letters. In ADA signs, the smallest lettering permissible is 5/8″ in height. The largest letters measure 2″ in height. Any lettering that exceeds these proportions is not permitted. A different set of restrictions applies to ADA signs that are hung or projected 
  • Grade II Braille 
  • The stroke thickness must be 15% of the letter “I.” The height and spacing between characters must be a minimum of 10% and a maximum of 35% of the character’s height 
  • San serif font should be used instead of italics 
  • Signs must be mounted on the latch side of the door 
  • The distance between the finished floor and the bottom line of text must be 48″ minimum or 60″ maximum. 
  • The use of Light Reflectance Values (LRV) in interior signs is not mandated by the current ADA Guidelines, nor are values provided. The fraction of light reflected from a surface is measured in LRVs 

ADA Signage mounting requirements 

  • Braille – Braille is divided into three types. Grade II Braille is required by the ADA. This kind of Braille allows for inconsistencies, reducing the number of characters used greatly. It does not translate letters directly (Grade I). For this purpose, most engraving software includes a translation function. 
  • Pictogram – A pictogram is an international symbol created in the same way as tactile letters are created. Pictograms are often formed of the same 1/32″ gauge material as tactile letters, but they do not have to be tactile. These symbols must fit into a field that is at least 6 inches tall. 
  • Must have 80” clear space from the floor to the bottom of the sign. 
  • Characters must be eggshell, matte, or non-glare finish. 
  • Characters must contrast with the background. 

Dual Message Signage 

Following the 2010 ADA changes, the new option for Separate Tactile and Visual Messages is becoming increasingly frequent, as the properties that make type intelligible to a visual reader differ from those that make type legible to a tactile reader. 

The following are examples of tactile characters: 

  • 1/2″ is the minimum height. 
  • Tactile in uppercase 
  • There is no need to contrast with the background. 

The following visual characters will be used: 

  • Capital letters and/or lowercase letters 
  • The style must be traditional in appearance. Simple serifs are OK. 
  • The stroke thickness must be a minimum of 10% and a maximum of 30% of the letter height. 
  • Character spacing should be a minimum of 10% and a maximum of 35% of the character height. 
  • Characters must be at least 5/8″ tall, with a height above the floor of fewer than 70 inches and a viewing distance of 6 feet or less. 

INDOVANCE Inc has been offering custom digital signage services and delivered inspiring designs to WOW our clients. Our Digital Signage designers are well-versed with evolving digital industry standards & trends and use their creativity & cuttings edge technology to transpose an idea or thought process into an attention-grabbing design. 

INDOVANCE Inc provides a wide range of internal and external signage and door signs, simple post and panel, channel lettering in a custom font, or a whole set of rebranded interior signs, ADA-compliant custom Braille signs, wayfinding signs/graphics, and wall/ceiling mounted signage from diverse industries. We ensure the quickest TAT (turn-around time) and comply with required ADA standards and codes at the same time. 

Indovance Inc works as your virtual CAD partner, so you can keep your printers hot, your shop busy, and your installers in the field! 

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For more queries regarding any of the topics mentioned above, feel free to connect with us on our website www.indovance.com, or contact us on +1-919-238-4044 

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