ADA Compliant Signs

When talking about ADA compliant signs and the pictograms used on them, the most commonly recognized pictograms would be those used on restroom signs and those that are found on handicap signs. These symbols are the most recognizable of all pictograms used on ADA signs and for a good reason. This is because of the fact that these are the most commonly used signs in and around establishments.

In reality, there are actually a number of pictograms used on ADA signs and these pictograms have to follow the set standards the ADA has put in place for their use. These pictogram rules are not as stringent as the rules used for character heights or Braille, however these should not be taken for granted either.

One such rule that should be followed on all ADA signs that use such pictograms involves the background area for this sign element. While there are no set guidelines for pictogram size or height, the background these should be on have to be at least 6” high. Aside from this, you should also make sure that nothing else is within this particular 6” high field reserved for the pictogram.

Descriptive text should also be part of signs that carry these pictograms. Examples of descriptive text include “restroom”, “exit” and “no smoking”. These should be underneath the symbol that you are using but should not be inside the aforementioned 6” high pictogram field. This text should be tactile and should be in a 70% contrasting color as its background. The pictogram should also be in this same color as the text, or in another color that is still within the 70% contrast mark.   

Aside from tactile text, Braille translations also need to be under these pictograms. The Braille translations of these signs need to be directly underneath the text. So, it is descriptive text under the pictogram and Braille under the descriptive text. In order to get the right sizes for all of these other signage elements, you might want to ask signage experts about this or conduct your own research on the right sizes and distances of these words and translations on these signs.

There are a lot of pictograms that are used on ADA compliant signs, with the restroom and accessibility signs being the ones that are most easy to recognize. It would help you to know what other pictograms need to be used on ADA signs though, in order for you to be fully compliant.