When putting up a building or renovating an old one to serve your business needs, you might find yourself encountering such terms as “tactile”, “ADA” and “accessibility”, to name a few. These terms are used when certain standards need to be met for your establishment to be in compliance with the law. Such terms are often used not only for building requirements but also for signage needs.

To help you understand what some of these terms mean when it comes to ADA compliance, here are a few of them with their corresponding definitions:

  • ACCESSIBLE – This means that a facility, establishment or business that is open to the public can be accessed by people with disabilities and they can avail of the services, products or facilities contained within.
  • ADA – This is the abbreviation of the term Americans with Disabilities Act, which is a law that requires buildings and businesses to give people with disabilities access to employment, their services, facilities and products. This is done by altering certain structures and following guidelines that allow these to happen.
  • BRAILLE – This is a reading system that uses tactile dots arranged in patterns that consist of 6 dots. These dots are used by the blind to read and come in three grades. Grade I Braille is the letter for letter form of this system. Grade II Braille, which is required by the ADA for signs that people can read with their fingertips, uses contracted word as well as word fragments instead of the letter for letter system that Grade I uses. Grade III Braille is the shorthand version of this reading system.
  • TACTILE – This means that something is distinguishable with the person’s sense of touch. This is always a term used for signs that have letters that are easy to read with the fingertips due to the fact that the fonts are sans serif and are elevated from its background.
  • PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS – This term covers a lot of things. In a nutshell, this is used to describe areas that the public uses and can access. Some examples of public accommodations include places of lodging, places of recreation, places of education, places of public gathering and rental or sales establishments.


These are but a few of the terms you are likely to run into when you are required to become ADA compliant, whether it be for your building’s design, your establishment’s accessibility needs or your sign obligations. To see the full list of ADA terms, you might want to visit http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAstandards.htm#106.