What Are the Characteristics of ADA Restroom Signs?

Are you looking to make your building more accessible?

ADA signs help those with disabilities, no matter what kind, find restrooms. As such, they have to fall within an acceptable range of measurements like size and height. You can’t make them crazy large or super small, and they must be in the same spots.

ADA restroom signs also need to consider color and contrast to aid visibility. Braille, raised letters, and pictograms are also necessary. Everything, including mounting, needs to follow some pretty exact specs.

Failure to remain ADA compliant could come with some pretty severe consequences. You want to make sure to avoid those. Keep reading for a complete guide on the characteristics of ADA restroom signs.

A Little Bit About ADA Compliance Standards

It’s worth knowing that ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. That single piece of legislation is responsible for helping millions of Americans. One major thing it’s aimed at is removing barriers for Americans with disabilities.

This is why ADA restroom signs are so vital. They aren’t only about providing basic information about the location of bathrooms.

Failing to have adequate Signage requirements for ADA restroom signs can get you into some serious trouble. For starters, it can cause you to lose business. Unhappy customers are unlikely to be repeat customers, and being unable to find the bathroom is not a big help.

That’s not the only problem. You could face legal action in the form of a lawsuit.

As a business, you have an obligation to make sure your building is accessible to all Americans. Failing to do that could land you in hot water.

Not only could a lawsuit hit you hard in the pocket, but it could also destroy your reputation. You don’t want people thinking that you discriminate against those with disabilities.

Last but not least, it’s a legal requirement. Failing to have ADA signs, or not having proper sign placement, could cause you to fail an inspection. This could result in you getting hit with a pretty hefty fine, so it’s not worth messing with.

With that out of the way, let’s get into some of the characteristics of ADA restroom signs.

Braille and Pictorial Symbols

We’ve all seen what restroom signs look like. To ensure your building follows ADA standards, your signs must follow specific guidelines. When including signage for those with disabilities, you have to get the measurements right.

You have to raise all characters or numbers by 1/32 of an inch. You need to use sans serif fonts, which have to be in uppercase. This means you can’t have a flat painted sign with the words “restroom” on them and expect it to count.

Customers have to be able to feel the raised lettering. Another thing you have to keep in mind is that you need to accompany all signs with Grade 2 Braille. For the Braille characters, each one has to be at the very least 5/8 of an inch high.

You cannot exceed 2 inches from top to bottom of each braille character.

When placing pictograms on your signs, you need a description of what the picture shows. This means the iconic image of a man or woman on a bathroom sign has to say “Men” or “Women” in legible writing underneath. Simply saying “restroom” if you mean for it to be gender segregated will mean your sign is not ADA compliant.

Finally, for your pictograms, you need a solid border around them. Aim for a minimum of 6 inches from top to bottom. The sign must be large enough to be easy to see and read.

Color and Contrast

ADA-compliant signs aren’t designed to be flashy. They do a very specific job, and their utility lies in their consistency. You must ensure that your ADA restroom signs fall within an acceptable range of every other ADA sign.

In practice, what this means is that your signs should have simple finishes with no glare. Eggshell white is acceptable, as are most matte colors. Remember, if it’s too shiny or hurts your eyes, it won’t be ADA compliant.

This goes for the pictograms of the human figures and the background they and any surrounding text or Braille sit on. Another thing to keep in mind is that the elements on your sign need to have strong contrast from each other. This means giving any characters or symbols enough contrast from the background.

An eggshell white human figure and text with a matte blue background are good examples. You could also reverse these for a white background and blue figure or text. Remember that the entire sign has to be easy to spot.

If you go for a white background on a white wall, your sign may not cut the requirements. A good rule of thumb is to err on the sign of caution. Go for a strong contrast level of around 75% between the two elements, and you’ll be set.


You need to make sure your ADA signs are always mounted properly. Start by making sure to always mount these on the wall nearest to the door handle of the restroom. If you have a double door, go with the right side unless it’s inaccessible or otherwise impossible.

The height of the sign should be between 48 and 60 inches from the floor to where the sign mounts to the wall. Most often, this is to the middle of the sign, so aiming for that will keep you compliant. One of the most important aspects of mounting, however, is accessibility.

For a sign to be ADA compliant, you have to be able to get within 3 inches of it. This ensures that anyone can read the sign. Those who will make use of Braille need to be able to stand comfortably close to feel the letters.

If you have anything in the way of that ability to get close to the sign, you won’t be ADA compliant. You can’t have shelves, garbage bins, or anything blocking the way. You can’t even have a moveable obstruction like a mop and bucket, so be careful.

This goes for the arc of the door as well. You have to make sure you’ve mounted the restroom sign with enough clearance. If someone could get hit by the door while reading the sign, you have to move the sign.

The same logic applies if the sign could get hidden by the door.


The final thing to keep in mind is the accessibility symbol. We’ve all seen the white figure in a wheelchair on a blue background. This is the International Symbol of Accessibility, and you see it everywhere.

This recognizable symbol gets used the world over. Many different international bodies and foreign governments include it in legislation and regulations. Of course, this goes for the Americans with Disabilities Act as well.

Every business needs this accessibility symbol among its ADA restroom signs. Any restrooms you have made accessible for persons with disabilities, regardless of type, must have this sign. This goes for restrooms that have had stalls widened to fit wheelchairs.

It also goes for single-occupant restrooms. These are usually the ones without stalls and with enough room to maneuver.

Most of the time, the company you order your ADA signs from will already know the necessary requirements. You have some leeway with the color choice, as you don’t have to go with standard blue and white. That said, you need to remember the contrast rule for all ADA signage.

Of course, you also have to follow ADA rules on how you use the sign. You have to mount it the same way as other ADA restroom signs. You also have to make sure you follow the rules for any Braille or raised lettering.

Consistency is important. If you nail your usual signs but miss on the accessibility one, you could still fail an inspection.

Everything You Need to Know About the Characteristics of ADA Restroom Signs

ADA restroom signs are always designed to meet a very specific set of rules and regulations. They need to follow the right height, color, contrast, and sizing requirements. You also have to make sure you remember accessibility, as well as features like Braille.

All ADA-compliant signs need to get mounted a specific way, and there are many ways you can end up non-compliant. Making sure your ADA signs are up to scratch starts with finding the right place to order them from.

At Martin ADA Signs, we know how to get you the exact ADA-compliant signs you need, so contact us today to learn more.

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