When someone needs custom ADA signs (American Disabilities Act), they usually need one that has tactile graphics with grade 2 Braille on it. Tactile means it is perceptible by touching it. The letters or symbols are raised so someone who is blind can read and understand them by touch. It wasn’t until around 1973 that they started to make signage that the blind could read. In 1988, any public building was required by law to post either standard or custom ADA signs.
Although ADA signs have Braille, that is not the only type of posting. There are several requirements that must be met for them to comply with the federal regulations. What about people with other types of disabilities? In addition to having Braille to help the blind, the Federal requirements also benefit people with mobility problems, as well as those who have hearing impairments.
There are several rules to follow when posting ADA-compliant signs.
All must have a high light to dark character contrast between them. What matters most is the contrast, not the colors. For example, a logo or banner with light gray letters and a charcoal gray background would work just fine. On the flip side, using red letters and a black or dark blue background wouldn’t work at all.
The font or typeface of the custom ADA signs must be very easy for everyone to read. This is also the case for those who are considered "functionally blind." As mentioned above, signs that are made to identify a room must be located adjacent to the door of the room it is identifying. In most cases, these signs may incorporate the tactile Braille and the high contrast lettering. However, if the client prefers two different postings, that is considered an acceptable option.
In addition to these few requirements, any postings that have directional information can have upper or lower case lettering. The letters cannot be too thin, and they cannot be in a bold typeface. It should have easy to read font with no decorative designs around it.
Custom ADA signs can also have diagrams and banners made that come in the form of pictograms. These pictures are used just about everywhere. The “wheelchair” symbol is used to let people know that the building is accessible to those with that need. The “ear” symbol lets people know that the building has an assistive listening system. The symbol with a telephone that has "sound waves" on it means that the building has volume controlled phones.
What is less well-known is that the regulations do leave room for some customizing and branding of ADA signs, though it is important to follow the letter of the law for impaired visitors and customers. The assistance of an established sign company is invaluable in every facet of creation all the way from customization and design to installation services for these highly specialized and regulated signs.
As you enter the buildings that have these valuable tools posted on them, you can feel good about it. That building and the people associated with it care about the needs of those with mobility, visual or auditory impairments. Custom ADA signs have allowed those with disabilities to maintain a high level of independence not possible in the past.