Almost all, if not all, establishments require signs to be put up. Directional signs, room signs, informational signs and others are necessary not only for those who work there and for customers, but also for compliance. How you put together your signs, the designs they are to be in and where these are mounted are also subject to ADA compliance.

How your signs look is usually a matter of preference but compliance guidelines need to be considered when you choose your signs. Interior signs, outdoor signs and architectural signage systems all have to comply with certain rules that the ADA has put in place. This is not to be taken lightly and ignored since non-compliance often comes with a hefty fine and possible litigation if complaints are filed against you.

The factors that are affected by these rules include a number of things. Depending on how a sign is to be used and where it is to be mounted, certain sign features need to be present. For example, if a sign is to be used for a permanent room, like a restroom or a kitchen, these have to have tactile letters and Braille on them to make these compliant. This is to enable individuals with vision impairments to easily determine what that room is with their sense of touch.

Signs that are overhead and out of reach of a person’s sense of touch need not carry tactile letters or Braille, although these still need to follow ADA guidelines. For signs that show direction or information, but are not within reach, sign color contrasts need to follow the 70% rule. This means that for these signs to be considered ADA compliant signs, you need to ensure that the background or the letters are 70% lighter or darker than the other.

Also part of your considerations when dealing with ADA compliant signs is the size of the letters on your signs and the fonts that are used. Fonts have to be simple serif or sans serif for both tactile signage and overhead signage. Letter sizes have to follow rules that are dictated by the sign mounting height, distance from the person using the sign and the size of the sign itself. All of these font size and distance guidelines can be easily found on this earlier post: ADA Signs 101: Character Height and Sign Reading Distance