When you look at door signs around you, you may notice that most if not all of these carry very specific features that can be seen on each one. No, this is not a coincidence, nor is this a case of monkey-see, monkey-do. What you are seeing is a norm that is dictated by no other than the government.
Door signs are required by law to carry very specific features, and these are to facilitate the use of everyone, including those with disabilities. This law is the ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, and this covers everything from pathways, to ramps, to doors, to door signs. This is enacted to allow everyone equal rights when it comes to accessibility, among other things.
What features are required of door signs that are under the ADA umbrella? These features that you will see on almost all door signs include the following:
Raised characters – these are letters and numbers that are higher than the background material these are on. This makes such letters, numbers, and even pictograms easier to read with the use of the fingertips. These are added onto these signs to help those with visual impairments but do not know how to read braille. This is usually for individuals who lost their eyesight at a later age and find it hard to transition from standard alphanumeric characters to braille.
Braille translations – these are those dots that represent letters, numbers, and words that are found on the signs. While the alphanumeric writing on the sign is still there, these are added on to help those who have visual impairments and can read only braille dots. These are usually found right beneath the alphanumeric messages on these signs.
Non-glare and non-gloss finishes – these are also used across all door signs since it is part of the set of rules that the government uses for ADA compliance. The use of such a finish on these signs is for these to be easy to read even in bright light. The non-reflective surface ensures that no glare is produced when the signs are hit by any kind of light, be it natural light or artificial light.
70% color contrast – the contrast between the background and the characters on the sign have to be at 70%. This is to ensure that these signs can be easily read even from a distance. When signs do not have this kind of contrast ratio, there is a tendency for the characters to blend into these signs, making them difficult to read.