| ADA and Other Codes
requirements, requiring the use of certain symbols, messages and graphic standards.
To provide adequate signing for all users, including persons with disabilities, the Federal
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), first published in the Federal Register on July 26, 1991
describes specific requirements for the use of typestyles, minimum type sizes, message contrast,
symbols, Braille characters, tactile messages, sign background gloss and sign placement. A
summation of the ADA as it applies to signage can be found in the Society for Environmental
Graphic Design “White Paper”, available through the SEGD, 401 F Street N. W., Suite 333,
Washington, D.C. 20001.
State and local sign codes vary considerably, such as symbol signs for toilet room doors required
The accessibility requirements for informational signs, such as, building directories can seem
confusing. Since the ADA does not specifically address informational signs, many people think that
they are exempt from the regulations. This is not the case.
This type of sign must comply with the general requirements for sign finish, contrast and character
proportion under the signage section of the ADA. Informational signs do not require Braille or
tactile characters and symbols, but other signage requirements do apply:
Building Directories mounted behind glass must use non-glare glass.
Character proportions must meet the proper width to height ratio.
Characters and backgrounds of signs must be of an eggshell, matte or other non-glare finish.
Characters and symbols must contrast with their background (light background with dark letters or
dark background with light letters).
Directories can be installed either as a projecting unit or integrated into a wall surface. Projecting
units, however, must provide a skirt or “cane strike” to meet ADA requirements.
Meeting these requirements will make informational signage easier to read for
everyone. To determine sign requirements for state and local codes, contact us
for more information.
ADA SIGN REQUIREMENTS
Accompanied by Grade 2 braille
Upper case & sans serif
Width-to-height ratio between 3:5 and 1:1
Stroke width-to-height ratio between 1:5 and 1:10
Tactile ADA characters at least 5/8" high, but no higher than 2"
Minimum 3" high
Sized to viewing distance
Text equivalent directly below
Text outside of background area
Background area 6" high
Finish/Contrast of Characters/Background:
Eggshell, or matte non-glare finish 70% contrast between backgrounds
On wall next to latch side of door
Avoids swinging doors
Avoids protruding objects
60" from floor to sign centerline
Minimum 80" clearance from floor
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