Being a business owner, you have a goal to make your business attractive as well as accessible to every customer out there. When we say ‘every’ we also mean the customers with disabilities. According to the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), it is necessary to put up proper ADA signage in public spaces to assist people with hearing, visual, or any other disabilities. It helps them read or locate what they are searching for, whether through visual signs, tactical touch (embossed letters), or Braille.
The ADA rule is a federal law that allows disabled people to live a normal life just like any other individual and enjoy various activities like shopping, dining in a restaurant, watching movies, etc. This law directs business owners to make ‘reasonable accommodations’ for disabled citizens. It could include various things like easy access to different areas of a building or facilities like separate restrooms.
Unfortunately, many business owners question the need for this requirement. Why is this even necessary? What’s in it for the business owners? This article will shed light on everything you need to know about ADA compliant business signs and why it may be essential for you to include them on your premises.
What is an ADA compliant business sign?
ADA compliant business signs are high contrast and tactile letters that make it easier to read; this also includes Braille letters. Why do you need it? The reason is simple: the signage in a business should not end when a customer walks through your doors. Even if you talk about regular people, they too require signs, so they know they are walking in the right direction and don’t somehow end up in a janitor’s closet.
If it’s essential for physically fit people, what makes you think it is least important for the disabled ones? These ADA signs similarly guide the disabled citizens, so you must have one. Besides, it can be helpful for the senior citizens as well as citizens who may be going through certain medical conditions that weaken their visual sense like glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Requirements and Guidelines
It may be confusing for a few business owners, so you need to understand the difference. The ADA signs that include business addresses, directories, parking signs, and the signs used for seven days or less are not included in the category of the ADA compliant. It instead includes all the areas inside a building, like, vending areas, restrooms, stairwells, elevator, etc.
It just doesn’t end here; a business owner needs to ensure that all the signs are correctly installed. There are also a few minor details that count a lot, too. As per ADA law, the following are some guidelines on what the ADA signs should look like, in some cases, feel like.
- The baseline of the tactile copy on every sign should be mounted somewhere between 40-60 inches from the ground
- Signs, present on a single door, should be mounted on the closest wall to the latch side of the door.
- If it is a double door, the sign should be present on the right side of the right door.
- A few locations could be:
- Exam Rooms
- Individual/Personal Offices
- Room & Floor Numbers Letters
- IT Room
- Danger Rooms
- ‘Employees Only’ rooms
Braille letters: are raised dots that help the visually impaired people read through while touching the dots.
- All the ADA signs should be tactile letters to help the visually impaired.
- For Braille, except for the proper nouns, every letter used should be lowercase.
- Braille needs to be domed and rounded.
- The mount and installation should be equal and uniform, so it is easier to read.
- Engrave it in Grade 2 Braille.
- The placement should be 3/8-1/2 inch below the last line of text.
- The spacing should be at least 3/8 inch of space around the Braille.
- The height of the dot must be 025-.037 inch (0.6-0.9mm).
- The diameter of the dot should be 059-.063 inch (1.5-1.6mm).
Background, fonts, and characters
- The fonts used should be sans serif typestyle. These are some of the fonts approved by the ADA:
- Arial Bold
- Futura Medium
- Franklin Gothic
- Trebuchet Bold
- Avenir Medium
- A 1/8 inch space should be there between the adjoining letters.
- The characters and the backgrounds of the signs should not emit a glare.
- The ADA signage with visual characters should have a light and dark contrast between the characters and the background. For example, a black background with white characters is the safest option and makes it easier to read.
- If signs consist of pictograms, they should have a background having a minimum of 6inches height.
- A text/description having a pictogram should be below the image.
- Permanent rooms should have upper case letters.
Why is it important for businesses?
As mentioned above, a business owner has to target every audience to gain exposure if he wishes to see a prosperous future for his business. Here are a few possible reasons why it is crucial.
Can’t go against the law
The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures people with any sort of disability should have the right to live a normal life and be independent. Thus, being a business owner, you cannot go against the law of your country.
In addition to independence and improving mobility for these citizens, these signages also ensure safety in public places like clearly marked entrances and exits or special parking spaces. By doing so, you are guaranteeing that your employees and customers are in safe hands when inside the premises. These ADA signs can also notify the disabled citizens of any specific requirements related to clothing, etc., before entering a particular area.
Safety is not restricted to these people only, but also for you and your business in legal terms. Putting up ADA compliant signs will help protect your business from lawsuits in case of an unforeseen event. Imagine being sued for not putting up a warning due to which a customer received a severe injury.
Putting up these ADA compliant signs will create a very positive impression of you and your business. Abiding by the ADA rules does not only make you responsible but also portrays that you care. Every time a customer walks in, it gives them a sense of being warmly welcomed. Think of the first impressions that customers will have when they can easily understand and recognize their wayfinding, identification signs, and other pieces of information. Being able to locate the restroom, stairways, meeting rooms, or exits will elevate the experience of the customer when he/she visits.
Many disabled people will make purchases from your company if they feel that the business is accessible to them. If you open all doors for them, then how can they not rely on you?
ADA symbols don’t have to be run-of-the-mill and boring, and neither are they one-size-fits-all signs. You can make it appealing to look at, like adding in logos or other brand elements to the signs; there is no limit when it comes to designs. It will make your brand stand out and be the talk of the town, which will again bring in more customers. All you need to ensure is that whatever you do, the signs should be readable and understandable. Hiring the right signage company will help you design all this while keeping the rules in mind.
Communicate important information:
Sometimes an ADA sign can help communicate vital information to the people. It could be:
- ADA signs for women, men, and gender-neutral restrooms.
- Office inserts and directory signs for lobbies in large buildings, so people don’t end up getting lost.
- Particular name inserts in offices or rooms designated for individual employees.
- Room number signs, especially for buildings with many rooms or more spaces.
- ADA signs that help understands danger rooms or emergency exits.
Which businesses don’t require ADA compliant signs?
Yes, the ADA law exempts certain businesses from putting up signs. An obvious example could be if you have an online store and your office space is in your bedroom or home, then it would be silly to have ADA signs there. If you have a business that requires interaction with your customers in their homes, remotely or their office places, then for sure, you do not need an ADA sign.
Some of the businesses are not obliged to follow every set of rules; for example, companies having 15 or fewer employees do not have to put up ADA signs for every need.
No matter what business you have, except for the few mentioned above, you need to make sure that you are meeting every requirement of the ADA law. Your business will soon be in the good books, and customers would consider you more trustworthy and reliable. Besides, it is also an excellent tactic to reel in customers and increase your sale, which surges the business profit. Who doesn’t like extra cash pouring in? A little bit of effort could go a long way.