The term “ADA Signs” has come into common use in the commercial signs industry with the advent of the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA. Unfortunately, it’s a misunderstood term. Most people think it’s synonymous with braille signs. Certainly, signs with braille and raised characters are the most visible manifestation of the law requiring access to the built environment, but the sign standards in the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, or ADAAG, require much more than just braille and raised characters on some business signs.
Let’s face it. ADA regulations don’t leave much wiggle room on most design elements. Here’s a little ADA 101 for you…Letters can’t be smaller than 5/8-inch or larger than 2 inches. All letters must be a minimum 3/32 inches thick for tactility. And, generally, you cannot use elaborate or decorative fonts. San Serif fonts, like Helvetica, are the staple of most ADA signs. It may sound restrictive, and it is at some level, but the goal is not to stifle creativity. The goal is to serve an intended audience.
While ADA guidelines define font size, contrast and other criteria, the law does not define specific design criteria as it relates to aesthetics. Letter height, Braille placement, font, and color contrast make only minimal impacts on the visual appearance. There are ways to make ADA signage more attractive while still adhering to the guidelines.
ADA-compliant materials are one way to make the difference between a boring sign and an attractive presentation. Sign frames with the ability to change printed inserts are another. Finally, understanding what the guidelines really say about color contrast and icons could give you more freedom than you thought.
Signs can be manufactured from an amazing variety of materials ranging from basic plastics to very elaborate designs of natural stone, woods or metals. Even new synthetic materials designed for counter-tops are excellent choices for this type of signage. We are finding new ways to add flexibility to the mix, though. New products, combined with color matching skills and ability to understand what the regulations do and do not mean can yield ADA signs fitting for even the most sophisticated settings.
Check out some of our ADA custom signage