The March 15th deadline for adhering to the 2010 standards for ADA compliance is now four months in the past, but the date continues to be representative of the important underlying motivation for the change. Beyond simply complying with state and federal statutes, implementing ADA signage in your place of business offers people with disabilities an inviting and accessible environment in which to work and visit. In the following sections, we will explore the specific types of disabled persons for whom ADA signage is most useful with respect to public accommodations.
Blind and Visually Impaired
One particularly large group of people who benefit from ADA-friendly signage in public domains is those who are either blind or visually impaired. As such, many of the guidelines for the new standards cater explicitly to their needs. The ADA lists three distinct categories of signs (permanent, directional and overhead), and visual limitations factor into the requirements for each. All permanent signs, for example, must be equipped with Braille and tactile characters that can be “read” by feel. Minimum dimensional requirements for the size and shape of these characters ensure that both sets of users will be provided with accurate information. Moreover, all signage must incorporate highly contrasting colors and a non-glossy finish into their designs. All of these accommodations were adopted in order to facilitate easy movement and to minimize discomfort and confusion. These are very welcome concessions for anyone unable to see well, and they go a long way in helping these persons to be self-sufficient in public arenas.
Just as entrances to buildings had to be modified to conform to the new ADA standards, so too did signage providing information and direction. These changes were of particular concern to people afflicted with physical disabilities, as mobility and effective use of these signs are top priorities for this demographic. Consequently, proper location and placement of signage as dictated by the ADA are important for assisting in these regards. For instance, the mounting height of wall signs is supposed to be between four and five feet from the ground. This lets people confined to wheelchairs to be able to easily reach interactive digital displays while still remaining at a suitable height for visually impaired persons. In addition, the ADA set regulations for clearance around doorways. These are in place to prevent collisions between people entering and exiting a location and individuals reading signs from a close distance. Although everyone will benefit from this legislation, it will especially impact people who need the assistance of crutches to walk. Also, though it’s not specifically mandated by the ADA, placing signs where they won’t impede movement in highly trafficked areas is a common-sense practice. Individuals who depend on crutches will appreciate not having to navigate around large displays in order to reach their destinations.
Deaf and Hearing Impaired
A smaller but no less significant faction for whom ADA signage is helpful is the deaf and hearing impaired. Even these individuals who can see signage displays with ease need to be informed of important services that are geared toward their precise disability. For example, assistive listening signage is required for assembly areas where they are available. These signs feature the International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss and must adhere to the same ADA guidelines for visual characters. Likewise, text telephones, or TTYs, are required to be identified in public locales housing regular pay phones. Even if there isn’t a TTY in that particular location, directional signage indicating where one can be found is required by law. These signs, which are marked by the International Symbol of TTY, also follow the same visual standards. While just another example of how ADA signage helps people with disabilities, this kind of display also prevents discrimination and isolationism.
For more information about ASI can improve your business with a wide range of ADA-related signage solutions, please visit our page devoted to ADA compliance.