Back in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into federal law. This meant it was prohibited to discriminate against anyone with a disability in the workplace and public areas.
If you’re a business owner, you must make your premises accessible to everyone. One of these inclusions is the use of ADA braille signs. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new business, or you’re doing an audit on existing premises, if you fail to meet the requirements, you can land yourself with hefty fines.
ADA signs have to meet specific criteria. The requirements have been written so that those who are visually impaired or otherwise disabled can access information. Therefore there is a standard that must be followed to keep a universal design so they know exactly where to find these signs in any public space.
To check that you still comply with the ADA regulations, this article goes into everything you need to know about the business signs you need, where to put them, and the standards they must meet. Read on to find out if your premises are fully accessible.
Where ADA Braille Signs Are Required
ADA signs are required for any business site. It doesn’t matter about the size of your business or who currently works there. There are a few exceptions to this rule, which include prisons and buildings that are listed under the National Register of Historic Places.
There are also a few exceptions for very small businesses along with some religious facilities. However, although not law, these types of premises can leave themselves open to negative press and possible lawsuits if a problem were to arise.
According to ADA compliance regulations, the signage must be used at any commercial facility, as well as a permanent room or public space. ADA signage is required in the following places.
- Restrooms and bathrooms
- General exits
- Emergency exits, including doors, stairs, and routes to escape a building
- Accessible parking spaces
- Elevators and elevator car controls
- Informational signage such as directions in a building
- Accessible checkout aisles in shops and supermarkets
- ADA signs are required to inform about any accessible features such as TTY for the hearing impaired
- Non-accessible exits, restrooms, and elevators must have ADA-compliant directional signage to the nearest accessible exit, restroom, or elevator
Although not a federal law, and exempt from ADA specifications in place, it’s also useful to apply these rules to any temporary signs to ensure you’re not discriminating
Do ADA Sign Specifications Vary By Location?
The federal ADA sign specification applies to all facilities across the country.
It’s worth noting that some states, counties, and cities have additional guidelines that you will have to make sure you are abiding by.
To avoid any issues of noncompliance, it’s recommended that you consult an expert on requirements for your area, such as a local building inspector to ensure you’re complaint.
What Does A General ADA-Compliant Sign Include?
If you’re unfamiliar with the types of signs, and the specific requirements for ADA Braille signs, then here’s a summary of what criteria you are obliged to follow. There are four different accessibility requirements for an ADA-compliant sign.
Requirements For An ADA Compliant Sign
These requirements depend on which ADA sign it is, where it’s located and what its purpose has. For general signs, use a combination of the following;
- International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) pictograms
- Visual text that meets the specific requirements set out in the ADA guidelines
- Tactile characters or raised characters
- Braille #2
However, for an essential piece of signage, such as an exit sign, the ADA guidelines state that a variety of reading methods must be used to be compliant. These are as follows;
- Must include Braille
- Must include tactile characters
- Pictograms are optional
ADA Braille Sign Requirements
To be compliant with the ADA requirements for Braille, there are 6 criteria you are obliged to follow. Failing to meet these requirements can mean you’re breaching the law and could land you with a hefty fine against discrimination.
Braille should be in the standard grade 2 variant.
Braille dots should have either a rounded or domed shape, they can not be flat or pointed.
When writing sentences in Braille, you should only use an uppercase letter before the first word of a sentence.
Use uppercase letters in front of proper nouns.
Use uppercase in front of names, initials, acronyms, and single letters in the alphabet.
Braille should be placed below the corresponding text.
On multiple separate lines of text Braille should be positioned below the last line of text.
Braille dots should be separated by at least ⅜ of an inch from any other raised borders, tactile characters, or decorative elements.
Braille dots have specific standard dimensions which need to be followed.
Along with the requirements above, to meet federal guidelines, there are also specific dimensions to follow. Use an ADA-compliant signmaker to ensure you’re keeping to this criteria and keeping on the right side of the law.
The dot base diameter should be between 0.059 and 0.063 inches.
The distance between two dots in the same cell must be between 0.090 to 0.100 inches away from each other, this is measured from center to center.
The distance between corresponding dots in adjacent cells must be between 0.241 and 0.300 inches and is measured center to center.
The dot height should be between 0.025 and 0.037 inches.
The distance between corresponding dots from one cell directly below should be between 0.395 and 0.400 inches away from each other and are measured from center to center.
Additional General ADA Signage Regulations
Aside from the criteria listed above, there are other regulations that ADA signs should follow.
The material that the sign is printed applies to identification signs, directional signs, and informational signs. These should have a non-glare finish, such as matte or eggshell.
ADA-compliant signs should also be printed with high-contrast text and background, although the contrast isn’t necessary for the Braille aspect part of the signs the Braille needs to be placed under the corresponding raised characters. There isn’t a specific level of contrast required, however, a minimum of 70% is usually recommended.
Tactile or engraved wall signs should be located on the wall and the latch side of any single door or entrance to a room or space. If there is not enough wall space, then it needs to be on the nearest adjacent wall.
ADA signage should be placed at a consistent 48 to 60 inches from the ground, this measurement should be to the lowest tactile character.
It’s also important to leave clear floor space under each of the signs, so be careful of the placement of plants or trash cans. Also, take note of which way a door swings open so that the door isn’t accidentally swung into someone reading the Braille sign. If there is the case of only one leaf of a double door being used, then the sign can be mounted on the inactive side of the double door as long as the height rules are followed.
Sometimes pictograms are included on ADA signage. These also need to meet certain guidelines as well. They need to meet the same requirements we just discussed for finish and contrast. They also require a specific height of at least six inches and be supported by text descriptions or Braille which needs to be located directly below the pictogram field.
Raised Sign Characters
If you’re using Braille alongside raised characters, then these characters also have to follow ADA rules. The information should be the same on either method so that it’s not confusing. The rules for raised sign letters are as follows:
- Signs should be written in uppercase letters
- They should use a sans-serif font
- There should be no decorative elements
- Characters should have a minimum height between ⅝ inch and 2 inches, this is based on the capital I height
Need Help Ensuring Your Business Is ADA Compliant?
As we’ve discussed, your business or premises must meet ADA compliance regulations. Even with the best efforts, failure to install signage that meets all the criteria can land you a hefty fine.
If you need help with the installation of ADA braille signs for your business, then find out more at Martin ADA Signs. Not only do we have an abundance of useful information about being ADA compliant, but we produce a range of unique signs, high quality and cost-effective. Contact us today and speak to a member of our team.