ADA Restroom Signs

One of the things that some ADA signs need, particularly ADA restroom signs and those that are used to mark the doors or entryways to permanent rooms in buildings, is tactile features. When we say tactile features, we mean those raised elements that people can feel with their hands and fingertips. Why is it that these are important to these signs and what tactile elements need to stand out when it comes to such signage?

These signage elements are essential for so many reasons, and not just for compliance purposes, or to avoid getting penalties and fines for non-compliance (although a lot of companies think that having these on their signs is for this purpose alone). These elements are there to help people with visual impairments to easily read and understand what is on these signs and to find their way around even when there is no one for them to ask directions from. This is why such features need to be distinct, and for these to stand out on the signs these are on, certain rules need to be followed.

For starters, these tactile features need to be raised to a specific degree in order for these to be considered true tactile elements. These should be raised from the sign’s background by 1/32 inches, or .8 mm, and should also follow specific rules regarding spacing. Braille translations and tactile letters have different rules governing them when it comes to spacing. Here are some that you might need to take note of:


Tactile letters or numbers (tactile text) need to be between 5/6 inches to 2 inches in height, with the size depending on how big the sign is.

The width of each tactile text character is between 55% and 110% of the character height.
The thickness of the strokes of these tactile letters and numbers should be around 15% of the height of the same characters.

The spacing between each letter, or number, should be at a minimum of 3 mm, or 1/8 inches. Maximum spacing between these characters is set at 3/8 inches.

Tactile letters on these signs need to be in all caps or upper-case letters.

Fonts that are to be used on these signs have to be sans serif. Sans serif fonts are those without the additional stroke that makes a font more decorative. Examples of sans serif fonts include Helvetica, Verdana, Tahoma, and Trebuchet MS, to name but a few.

For Braille elements on these signs, the dots that are used to make these translations need to be rounded or domed, and not flat-topped.

Proper dot height is required as well, and these need to be between .6 and .9 mm (or .025 and .037 inches). Dot diameters need to be precise as well, with specified diameters being at 1.5 mm to 1.6 mm (or .059 to .063 inches).

Spacing between dots also need to follow specific rules. For spacing of dots within one character, a 2.3 mm to 2.5 mm space is needed. For spacing of adjacent dots that belong to two different characters, a distance of 6.1 mm to 7.6 mm is required. For spacing between dots that belong to characters that are on top of one another (this is for those ADA restroom signs or ADA signs that have long messages on them which require two lines of Braille), the distance between dots or these characters need to be around 10 mm to 10.2 mm.

Pictograms on these signs also need to be raised, just like the Braille translations and text on them. These need to be raised at the same height as the other tactile elements on these signs.


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