ADA Signage

You’re walking around a building that you frequent, and you check a directional sign to make sure that you are heading in the right direction. You get to a room that is marked with another sign that tells you who what room number it is as well as who is occupying it. After you are done talking with the person inside, you follow signs that show you where the exit can be found, and since the elevator is taking too long, you decide to take the stairs, which is also marked by another sign.

What you may not know is that, all of the signs you consulted to get to where you wanted to go, and to get out of the building, are actually ADA signage. ADA signs come with a variety of features, depending of course on what the sign is and what it is supposed to do. For example, directional signs need to have arrows that help point you in the right direction. Each type of sign that needs to conform to the rules set by the ADA actually follows a different set of guidelines for compliance.

So, what are these signs that are called ADA signs and what rules does each one need to follow? For starters, almost all of the signs you see being used inside buildings are ADA signs – not all, but almost all. Movable signs, temporary signs and store name signs (sometimes called commercial signs) that you see inside a mall are not ADA signs, but other signs such as directional signs, directories, and even exit signs are subject to the rules set by the ADA.

Bathroom signs, one of the most common signs that you will see anywhere (both indoors and outdoors for that matter), are also signs that need to follow very strict rules set by the government for accessibility. These signs are, in fact, one of the types of signs that need to follow a lot of guidelines in order for these to be considered compliant. This is because such a signage is considered a permanent room sign, and as such, these need to have ADA elements on them such as tactile characters, Braille translations, 70% color contrasts and sans serif fonts.

Not all of the ADA signage that you come across needs to have all of the ADA elements that permanent room signs do, since not all of these can be reached by human hands. For example, directional signage that is hung overhead need not have tactile elements on them like tactile letters, pictograms and Braille. These however need to have the right color contrast for people to easily make out the text and graphics from the background, as well as properly sized characters to make these easy to read and understand even from a distance.

Some signs that do not need to have certain ADA compliance points followed are sometimes made compliant by some businesses simply because they want all their signs to have that uniform look. For instance, directional signs that are within reach of human hands need not have Braille or tactile letters on them, but since the establishment placed this particular sign within your reach, they decided to add these tactile elements in order to facilitate the easy reading of such characters by those with visual impairments.

These are a few of the types of signs that you may see every day but did not know were actually ADA compliant signs. ADA signage is actually everywhere and can be easily distinguished due to the features that these have on them. 

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