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Goals and Elements of ADA-Compliant Architectural Signage

In the January 2012 edition of Sign of the Times, ASI’s Infinity interior signage system is featured as an optio nfor creating ADA-compliant architectural signage. To view the article by Craig Berger, click here or click the image below.

In addition to the article, we’ve written a piece that discusses ADA-compliant architectural signage for built environments. Enjoy.

As mandated by the Americans With Disabilities Act, built environments must meet the requirements set forth in the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design. Architectural signage is an integral component of accessible design, since people with disabilities must be able to make use of signage in a built environment to safely navigate the facility and get the most out of it. The goals of ADA-compliant architectural signage center around making sure the resources of a facility are accessible to everyone.

Communicate Availability

A major goal of ADA-compliant architectural signage is to communicate availability of facilities that are accessible to disabled people. Since the ADA requires built environments to ensure accessibility, it follows that an important role of signage is to let people know about these accessible facilities. To do this, signage can make use of symbols which denote universal accessibility. It’s about identifying, by the clearest means possible, aspects of the built environment which would be most helpful to the disabled.

Through use of the wheelchair symbol, architectural signage can let people know about accessible features. An example that you see every day is signage that denotes wheelchair-accessible restrooms. Another example is signs that identify parking spaces intended for disabled people. The wheelchair symbol is just one symbol used to communicate accessibility. Others include symbols that denote facilities for use by people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Provide Information

ADA-compliant architectural signage must also provide information to disabled people in a specific form they can use. For example, blind people need signage that makes use of braille and tactile characters so they can read the signs by touch. To be readable by visually-impaired people, ADA-compliant signage must feature sufficient contrast between the background color and the color of the copy and have a non-glare finish.

Readability isn’t only about color, finish, and tactile characters. The position of architectural signage is also vital to its effectiveness in providing information to disabled people. The 2010 Standards for Accessible Design sets the height for mounted signage at 60”. Letters on mounted signage must be at least 3” high. A mix of uppercase and lowercase is acceptable on mounted signage, but all other ADA-compliant signage must be in uppercase letters.

The goals of ADA-compliant architectural signage are twofold. The signage must clearly identify accessible facilities in the context of a built environment, and the signage must deliver information to disabled people in a form that they can utilize. Need to make sure your signage is ADA-compliant? Check out the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities for more information.

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