Tactile Signage

Creating tactile signage for your establishment comes with certain rules that need to be followed. While tactile is a term that is easy enough to understand (the word means “perceptible to the sense of touch”), signs that need to have these features need to follow definite rules so that these can be easily read with the fingertips. Tactile signs also need to have Braille translations, which are also read with a person’s sense of touch, and these too need to follow specific rules for these to be useful on the signs these are on.

The guidelines that you need to adhere to when it comes to your tactile signage are made to help you ensure that your signs are not only compliant but are also truly tactile. What is the use of having tactile features, after all, if these cannot be easily used by those who needed them? Following the rules set for the creation of tactile features on your ADA signs will help make these compliant and totally useful to those who read with their fingertips.

Rules for Compliant Tactile Signage and Braille Features

So what exactly are these rules and how does one go about following them? In a nutshell, these rules have something to do with the size of the characters and dots on your signs, the height of the raised parts, the width of the characters and even the distance between each element of the sign. The need to follow such guidelines is for people who read with their sense of touch to not end up getting confused with what they are trying to read.

For example, when it comes to the fonts that can be used for tactile letters, you will need to use sans serif fonts and not oblique, italic or script. These letters need to be raised from its background by a minimum of .8mm or 1/32 inch, and all letters in your tactile signage need to be in upper case. These letters also need to be properly spaced, with at least a .125mm or 1/8 inch space in between each character. Maximum spacing between each character is to be set at 4 times the width of the character’s stroke width.

The size of the characters on your tactile signs can be somewhere between 5/8” high to 2” high, depending on the size of your sign. Stroke width or thickness is between 10% and 15% of the character’s height, usually based on the height of an upper case letter “I”. Also worth noting is that the letter “O” for these tactile signs needs to have a width that is a minimum of 55% and maximum of 110% of the height of your upper case letter “I”.

For your Braille translations, you will also need to follow similar guidelines. There are guidelines for dot height, dot width, distance from one dot to another in a cell, and distance from one cell of dots to another cell of dots that indicate different syllables, words, or letters. Braille rules also include the roundness and domed shape of these dots, as well as the proper shape of such dots. The Braille that you need to use for your tactile signs is Grade II Braille, which is called the contracted form.

In order to follow such rules, you will need to find a sign manufacturer that already knows what these rules are and how to effectively put together ADA signs that have these tactile features on them. Not all sign manufacturers can easily follow all the guidelines set for tactile signage and for you to ensure that you are indeed getting compliant signs, you need to make sure that your sign maker is skilled enough and has the capabilities to create such signage.

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