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The ADA Requirements For Signs

The comprehensive ADA requirements set forth by Federal law in regards to proper architectural signage for a business environment are not to be overlooked.  A company must ensure that their building is not only accessible by all individuals regardless of their limitations, but also compliant with all relevant and current laws.  The ADA requirements for signs are rather detailed yet will add to the professionalism of a company and likely increase the business they attract from a diverse range of clientele.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1992 and has since provided customers with various types of disabilities to have equal access to public facilities.  The accessibility guidelines set forth under this law forbid discrimination against those that may be visually or hearing impaired, limited in mobility, or mentally handicapped, just to name a few.  In addition, this Act provides specific standards for all businesses to follow.  It allows for ease and uniformity for both owners and consumers.

From exit signs to room numbers and other wayfinding signage, the ADA requirements are meticulous and should not be disregarded by business and property owners.  When created with each aspect in mind, their simplicity will benefit all users regardless of whether a person has a physical limitation or not.  The common theme among the regulations is for clarity and ease of reading for all those utilizing the signage. 

The specific requirements include color, font, glare, and even sign placement.  More specifically, each display must have color combinations with a high level of contrast between the background, wording, or symbols.  While the background may be a light shade, the printed characters would then need to be a much darker color, and vice versa.  The surface must have a non-glare effect, as a reflective surface can hinder the elderly and those with sight limitations from reading the information correctly.  An acceptable finish to achieve this will be with a matte or eggshell surface.  The only exclusion to this rule is in regards to signage utilized in parking or traffic locations where a reflective surface is necessary.  Next, the font must be simple and easily legible.  Rather than fancy characters, a font such as sans serif should be used in a size of at least 5/8 inch to 2 inches high.  They should be in the middle range of stroke thickness and be raised at least 1/32 inches for tactile purposes.  All printed letters and numbers must be translated below the corresponding characters utilizing a Grade 2 Braille.  This contracted Braille will also accompany any displayed pictograms.  The most common pictograms for accessibility are the wheelchair, ear, phone, and keyboard symbols. 

These ADA requirements, set forth by the American National Standards Institute, also cover the actual mounting and placement of all signage.  They must be placed on the wall closest to the knob side of the door when possible.  Otherwise, they should be mounted on the closest adjoining wall surface.  Tactile signage is required to be hung at least 48 inches and no higher than 60 inches from the finished floor, or present floor covering.  This measurement should be from the floor to the bottom of the lowest numbers or lettering on the sign.

The ADA requirements that companies must follow may be extensive.  However, they do not have to compromise the style and overall look of the surrounding décor.  A knowledgeable sign company can make certain of the visual appeal while remaining compliant to the corresponding accessibility regulations.

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