The Americans with Disabilities Act has been in effect for nearly twenty years, and yet still some of the signage demands of the act can be overlooked in public spaces. If you purchase a new space or build, it is likely that your inspector will check for ADA compliance. However, if you buy a building that predates the ADA (anything built prior to 1990), you may need to make some modifications to ensure ADA compliance.
Although this can seem somewhat daunting, the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act is that you make all reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities. One of the most cost-effective steps you can take to ensure compliance is to update the signage within your building.
Not only will you be within compliance by ensuring proper signage, but you will make all of your clients feel included and welcome! This is a step toward progress and ensuring customer, employee, and visitor satisfaction and inclusiveness. Starfish Signs recognizes the importance of such signage and is here to help! Read on to learn more about ADA-compliant signage.
Rules for ADA Signage
ADA standards were updated in 2010 with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. ADA signs are required for areas within a business that are designated for public access and for employees only. They should be designated with contrast colors and a non-glare finish.
If a sign is being used to identify a room, it needs to have raised characters and Grade 2 Braille, which includes contracted letters that are integrated as complete words, rather than letter-for-letter translations.
In California, for example, Braille sizing and spacing must be exact. For example, the dot base diameter must be between 0.059 inches and 0.063 inches while the distance between two dots in the same cell must be between .090 inches and .100 inches. Additionally, signs should have relevant pictograms where applicable.
Finally, text characters should be all uppercase and typed in a clearly definable sans serif font. Fonts that meet this standard include Arial Bold, Helvetica, Franklin Gothic, and more!
Why ADA Signage is Critical
Federal law mandates that public buildings and spaces maintain proper, up-to-date signage. With this in mind, it is important to ensure ADA compliant signage is posted throughout your building. This will both ensure an inclusive environment and keep you safe from lawsuits, penalties, and fines.
When ADA Signs Are Required
ADA-compliant signage is important in several areas within your building. First, you will want to ensure proper signs that display the locations of floors, stairwells, and all exit levels. This will help ensure that all individuals within your building can safely travel through and exit the building in the event of an emergency.
Additionally, you will need signs posted at every elevator, signs that display the locations of all restrooms, and signs posted to identify every permanent room. A permanent room is largely defined as a room that will not change function within the foreseeable future.
These signs must be placed in any business that provides “goods and services” to the public. In such a case, a business qualifies as a public accommodation and needs to be compliant with ADA standards. Such categories for required ADA compliance include, but are not limited to:
- Hotels and overnight lodging facilities
- Movie theaters and stadiums
- Convention centers
- Funeral parlors
- Recreational facilities
- Public and private schools
- Social service organizations
- Exercise facilities
- Sales establishments
- Museums and art galleries
- Transportation terminals
Exceptions to ADA Regulations
There are some environments that are not required to be compliant with ADA regulations. The first such exception is for “building directories, menus, seat and row designations in assembly areas, occupant names, building addresses, and company names.” Additionally, signs are not required to be compliant within parking structures or detention and correctional facilities. Finally, if a sign is only needed on a temporary basis–defined as seven or fewer days–it is not required to be ADA compliant.
ADA Sign Installation
One of the most important demographics that ADA signs support includes people traveling in wheelchairs. To ensure that your signs are effective for this audience, you must place these signs in an easily viewed and accessed location. In other words, someone in a wheelchair must be able to reach the sign to access the Braille print. This would render such a sign approximately sixty inches above the floor level, although there are some nuances to the specific height requirements. Additionally, as stated above, such signs would include the standard international symbol, or ISA, for a wheelchair.
You Don’t Have to Skimp on Design to be Compliant
Although ADA-compliant signage comes with a fairly detailed set of requirements, you are not stuck with installing the same basic blue signs as everyone else on your block. When you partner with a custom sign specialist who understands all of the ins-and-outs of ADA-compliance, you get the benefits of both great design and compliance. Starfish Signs knows what it takes to create a custom sign that will contribute to the overall look of your business or organization, while still ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Not only do we have extensive experience designing and implementing federally compliant signs, but we are knowledgeable of the specific ways that Orange County and Southern California have adapted their expectations for ADA compliance. We stand behind all of our work and can’t wait to hear from you as you seek your quick, free quote for your building’s ADA signage.