Washroom Signs

You may have heard people ask you, or someone you know, where the restroom is, or where the washroom is, and you automatically direct them to the bathroom (even when the question was about a restroom or a washroom). This is because, in reality, all three terms are used for what most people refer to as the bathroom. This then means that bathroom signs, washroom signs, and restroom signs, are all the same.

If you think about it, and when you try to define the meaning of each word as per its composition, these terms should actually mean different rooms. Bathroom is a word that combines bath and room, which essentially means a room where you can bathe; restroom is a word that combines the words rest and room, which is supposed to mean a room you can rest in; washroom is a combination of words wash and room, which is supposed to imply a room you can wash in, not necessarily bathe.

Given the different meanings of each term, if you were to base this on the words used to create the term, these rooms should then be used for different things, and as such, should carry signs that indicate such usage. However, since these terms, despite the difference in meanings when scrutinized, actually mean one thing, the signs that are used on them are essentially the same. Whatever the term you use for these facilities, these are still used by people for whenever nature calls.

The signs used for these facilities, no matter what terms are being used, carry the same features and are subject to the rules set by the government in the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). These rules are there for a reason, and that reason is for everyone to easily distinguish what is written on these signs and to make it easy to find these bathrooms, restrooms, or washrooms. These rules need to be followed or establishments that fail to comply will find themselves either being penalized, fined, or facing litigation.

The common features that you will see on bathroom, restroom, and washroom signs include the rather familiar pictogram of a man or a woman, depending on which gender such a facility is for. These very same signs may also carry the wheelchair symbol (also known as the ISA or International Symbol for Access), which indicates that the facility has a cubicle that can easily accommodate wheelchairs in them. These are cubicles that are big enough for wheelchairs to maneuver in, and are made especially for those with disabilities, although such cubicles can be used by pregnant women, parents with small children and the elderly.

These signs carry other features as well, which make these easy to understand by everyone, specifically those with visual impairments. These signs have Braille translations on them as well as tactile features, such as raised characters and raised pictograms. These also have color contrasts set at 70%, which means that either the background or the characters are darker or lighter by 70% in comparison with the other. This makes these signs easier to read and the characters easy to distinguish from a distance.

No matter what terms are used, restroom signs, bathroom signs, or washroom signs, these are all the same. This also means that all these features, along with a few more that are in the ADA guidelines for ADA signs, should always be present on these.

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