Posted on 12, October, 2020
Last Modified on 19, February, 2021
ADA Sign Installation Guidelines for Public Businesses
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requires any place with public accommodations to follow a specific set of rules in order to remain inclusive for persons exhibiting any manner of physical or mental impairments. In order to maintain uniformity among the innumerable businesses in which these accommodations are required, there are strict guidelines on how to install ADA-compliant signage. According to the CDC, one in every four (26%, or 61 million) Americans suffer from some form of disability be it physical, mental, or visual. As such, it is vital that every business has clearly placed, consistent signage — and that includes yours. In order to prevent discrimination against disabled citizens, these individuals must have the same access to government resources, public accommodations, and commercial facilities as everyone else. This article aims to break down the steps you should take in order to properly equip your business with ADA-compliant signage.
ADA Sign Installation Guidelines
An ADA-compliant sign is required for every permanent room or space in a building in order to build inclusivity and accessibility for all members of the public. This document is designed to help you understand how ADA-compliant signs should be installed, where to install them, and why. Always defer to your local building authority for regulations and code updates.
- First things first, you need to equip yourself with the right tools for the job. We recommend bringing a tape measure, pencil, and level for starters. Most ADA-compliant signs also require foam tape or a silicone adhesive in lieu of traditional nails or screws. The use of adhesives avoids damage to walls, allows for removal or replacement of signage more easily, and reduces the risk of physical damage to guests who may run their fingers over metal hardware.
- Next, you must decide where your new ADA-compliant signage fixture will go. For single doors, your sign should be mounted on the latch side of the door. For double doors with two leaves, signage should be placed on the right-hand side of the entryway. Similarly, for double doors with one leaf, signage should be placed on the side of the inactive door.
- In cases where there is no wall space at the latch side of a single door or at the right side of double doors, signs shall be located on the nearest adjacent wall. ADA-compliant signage containing tactile characters must be located so that a clear floor space of 18” x 18” minimum, centered on the tactile characters, is provided beyond the arc of any door swing between the closed position and 45-degree open position.
- Overhead and projecting signs have their own set of rules. The bottom of overhead signs must be at least 80” above the floor while projecting wall-mounted signage must have a maximum protrusion of 4” into the pathway and sit a minimum of 27” from the floor. Signs should not interfere with or block any door function, emergency equipment, or sprinklers.
Frequently Asked Questions about ADA-Compliant Signage
- Q: Do all signs need to be ADA-compliant and have Braille and tactile letters?
- Building addresses, directories, parking signs and temporary signs don't need to be ADA compliant. Temporary signs are those used for 7 days or less.
- Q: Do I need ADA-compliant signs in the stairwells of my building?
- You are required to have a tactile sign next to each door inside a stairwell. These signs should identify the floor level, stair level and exit level. Some local fire codes have size requirements for these signs. Please check with your local code authority.
- Q: Who enforces ADA laws & requirements?
- The Department of Justice has the ultimate responsibility for enforcing ADA laws. In practice, though, the actual assessment of signs is usually handled by local code inspectors. Citations from the Department of Justice can range as high as $50,000 for the first offense.
- Q: What Makes a Sign ADA-Compliant?
- Any ADA-compliant signs must have backgrounds and characters that do not create any glare, unless the signs are for parking or traffic. These signs cater to those with visual impairments who are not able to process glare or reflection very well, especially elderly people.
- Q: Which Fonts are ADA-compliant?
- ADA-friendly fonts include Tahoma, Calibri, Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, and Times New Roman. However, choosing the right font for website use often boils down to three factors: color, size, and contrast.
Final Notes on ADA-Compliant Signage
Not only are ADA-compliant signs required and enforced by law, with hefty fines being imposed against those who do not follow state regulations, but they go a long way toward creating an environment of inclusivity for disabled citizens. Use this signage to promote a discrimination-free workplace that accepts everyone for who they are whilst assisting them with overcoming whatever limitations they may face in their day-to-day lives. Uniformity in sign placement between businesses helps visually or physically impaired members of our society navigate public places that much easier, so it is vital that your business does its part in increasing awareness, acceptance, and visibility of ADA-compliant signage.