What Small Businesses Should Know about ADA Signage and Complying with the 2010 ADA Guidelines

We have talked about the new 2010 ADA Guidelines so much on Conversations about Signage that we sometimes fear our reader’s eyes have begun to collectively roll back in their heads. We understand – it can be a very boring and tedious topic to discuss, but one way to look at the new 2010 ADA Guidelines is to consider how complying with them will impact small businesses in the U.S.

Consider the recent blog article, authored by CeceliaT, from the U.S. Small Business Advisor about how ADA Impacts Small Business:

“ Title III of the ADA applies to private businesses of all sizes that provide goods or services to the public (also known as public accommodations).  There are several categories of public accommodations, including stores, restaurants, theaters, hotels, recreational facilities and others. Only private clubs and religious organizations are exempt from Title III, so if you own or operate a business that serves the public, the ADA applies to you!”

On a side note, does anyone think small business in America need government advisors? Who knew this organization even existed? Back to the topic – if private clubs and religious organizations are the only folks who are exempt, then that means that every other business — from small print shops to family-owned restaurants to local hardware stores – needs to pay attention and work toward complying with current ADA Guidelines. Want to know why? Read the blog post from earlier this year about the lawyer on a crusade to expose ADA infractions by businesses and file lawsuits.

ADA Signage, Color-Contrast and 2010 ADA Guidelines

Because this blog deals with architectural signage and wayfinding, let’s talk about steps small businesses can take to comply with the current guidelines:

1)      Consult with a trusted local signage provider before taking action on your own

2)      Tackle the problems in chunks

3)      Do not be fooled into thinking you have to compromise your brand identity to meet guidelines

4)      Be sure you know you clients so you can meet their needs

The reason you should consult with a respected local signage provider is quite simple: they understand the intricacies of the local codes and national ADA Guidelines and they can survey your business and make a determination about what type of signage solution would work best. It’s no secret that replacing or updating interior signage can be costly. Therefore, tackle the problem in chunks. There is nothing wrong with moving forward in phases. Tackle the most populated areas first and save the lesser traveled areas for phase 2.

ADA signage does not have to be bland and it does not have to be a black panel with white text. There are hundreds of products and solutions available on the market today that allows for your hard-earned brand identity to be integrated into the signage. Remember, your clients perceive brand consistency and message clarity with professionalism, and something as simple and innocuous as an interior signage system can make a positive psychological impact on your client if it is done right.

Finally, know your clients. Make sure the messages displayed are understood by at least 75% of your clients. That can mean bilingual signage and using pictograms on certain signs.

Check out these other resources for ADA signage and interior signage:

What Makes a Good Sign?

ASI’s 2010 ADA Guideline Handout


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