What makes a sign ADA Compliant?
There is a lot of different elements that go into making an ADA sign perfectly compliant and up to code. These can vary from distance between lines of text, distance from the edge, area of the pictogram, and more. Let’s walk through the ins and outs of ADA compliancy.
Every font type is different. While that may be obvious, it can make it difficult to know what fonts are allowed on ADA signs and which aren’t. To begin with, all ADA signs must use a simple sans serif style font. That means none of those little wings at the ends of a character. This is an example of a sans serif font. All text must be in UPPERCASE writing.
The size of the font matters too. It can’t be too little, or too large. The font has to lie somewhere between 5/8″ and 2″. Most signs utilize 5/8″ size.
There are many misconceptions about the requirements for pictograms on ADA signage. The only strict guidelines that must be followed is that the pictogram must be within 6″ of vertical space with nothing else except the pictogram. The actual size of the pictogram can vary. The pictograms do not need to raised to tactile height either. The pictograms may be simply images on the sign. Raising it is simply a stylistic choice.
There are a few spacing requirements specified for ADA compliancy. Braille must be placed 3/8″ below the text it represents. If the text is multi-lined, the braille goes beneath the bottom line of text. Braille must have 3/8″ of clearance on all sides, including from the bottom of the sign.
All braille is in Grade 2. The dots are a standard size and spacing and cannot be altered. In Grade 2 braille, the braille is not a letter-by-letter transcription of the text it is for, instead it uses shortenings for faster reading and to help keep it compact.
Colors and Contrast
On an ADA compliant sign, the colors of the text and background do matter. The text must be high contrast from the background, however the braille does not. Think of white text on a black background, or vice versa as an example of highest possible contrast. There is room for adjustment since the amount of contrast is only specified as “high”, but we will tell you if we think that the colors requested for a custom sign are not ADA compliant.