Understanding the How and Why of ADA Code-Compliant Signage

ada-compliant-signageCurrently, there are approximately 2.5 million Americans that are legally blind and millions of others who suffer from limited vision. In the coming years, as Baby Boomers age, the need for signage that makes public spaces accessible will become even more important.

But how?

The American Disabilities Act regulates signage to ensure that people with disabilities have easy access to navigate buildings and communal space. The ADA code-compliant guidelines enforce that signs have high contrast, tactile letters and braille for optimal readability.

Restaurants, schools, museums, public office buildings, retail and social service establishments, both public and private with more than 10 employees, must abide by ADA guidelines for approved code-compliant signage.

When designing ADA code-compliant signage solutions, the following ADA guidelines must be followed:

Finish and Contrast

ADA compliant signage guidelines require a non-glare finish and adequate contrast between background and character colors. Consider signage with light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background.

Typestyles and Character Height

Sign characters must utilize a sans serif typestyle to be ADA code compliant. For permanent room signs, tactile characters must be upper case and be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter “O” is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter “I”.  Upper and lower case are permissible for overhead and flag mounts, but a minimum character size of 2 inches is required. For directional signage, character height must be appropriate for the viewing distance. Again, upper and lower case characters may be utilized

Tactile Characters and Braille

For permanent room signs, characters must be raised a minimum of 1/32 inch (0.8 mm) and accompanied with grade II Braille. Braille shall be domed or rounded in shape. Flat, square cornered Braille shall be avoided. Raised copy and Braille are not required on overhead or directional signage and minimum height is measured using an upper case “X.”  Lower case characters are permitted.



A pictogram is an international symbol made in the same fashion as tactile lettering. These are not required on all signs. Office signs and room numbers do not require pictograms, but signs such as restroom, phone and no-smoking signs do require them.

To be ADA complaint, pictograms must have a background field of at least 6” minimum in height. Pictograms shall be accompanied by the equivalent verbal description placed directly below the symbol and not within the field.


ADA Code-Compliant Sign Position Guidelines

Positioning of signage is also important when it comes to ADA. For example, rooms that have a single door, the tactile room-identification sign must be on the latch side. When it comes to double doors with one active latch, the tactile room identification sign shall be on the inactive side and with two active doors, the tactile room identification sign must be to the right of the right-hand door. If a lack of wall space precludes any of the prescribed locations, the tactile room identification sign may be located at the nearest adjacent wall.

Mounting Height

Mada-signage-mounting-height-requirementsounting height is also important for a variety of sign types. On room-identification signage, the tactile characters on signs must be 48 inches minimum above the ground measured from the baseline of the lowest tactile character, and 60 inches  maximum above the ground measured from the baseline of the highest tactile character. For overhead signage, they must have an 80-inch clearance from floor to bottom of sign. Flag-mounted signage need an 80-inch clearance from the floor to bottom of the sign if the projection from the wall is 4 inches or greater. Lastly, directory signs shall be mounted a minimum of 27 inches from the floor with no more than 80 inches at the top.

Creative’s team of experienced account executives, project managers and designers are well-versed in ADA code-compliant signage. They can easily guide you in selecting the perfect look for your signage solutions that also complies with ADA code. For more information on ADA signage solutions, or any other types of signage, contact the Creative Sign Designs team today.

We have two locations in Florida featuring more than 50,000 square feet of our product offerings. In Tampa and Orlando, we provide a glimpse into the endless possibilities in the sign world. We have created a whole new concept in signage, one that incorporates high-tech design and top-of-the-line construction.



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