Protect Your Business and Your Customers with ADA Signage
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 61 million people in this country with a disability such as blindness/visual impairment, limited mobility, or cognitive impairment. Thanks to advances in science and the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many of these individuals can live normal, independent lives – chances are good, they’re your customers, your workforce, your vendors, and other constituents.
Equipping your business with signage that meets ADA requirements helps ensure equal access, but it can be challenging for integrated marketers to understand all of the compliance complexities. There are very prescriptive details about the content, construction, and placement of all signs. Plus, some states have requirements that go above and beyond those established by the federal government. Even simple signage violations can come with penalties of up to $75,000 for the first violation and climb as high as $150,000 for subsequent violations.
The most failsafe way to maintain compliance is to work with an experienced signage vendor like FSI. We’ve spent years helping businesses of all kinds and sizes navigate ADA requirements. We’ve prepared this overview to help integrated marketers familiarize themselves with some of the guidelines. The list below is far from comprehensive, but it should help you start thinking about your needs.
Who Needs ADA Signage?
If your business is open to the public and serves customers, you need ADA signage, no matter your size or industry. Companies that are not open to the public but have 15 or more employees must also maintain compliant accommodations and signage.
What Signs are Exempt?
Most marketing and advertising signs are exempt, and that includes signs with your company name and logo. Temporary signs (meant to be up for a maximum of seven days) and building address signs are also exempt.
The Minimum Requirements
Generally, ADA signage helps people safely navigate throughout a building. It may include signs designating permanent rooms or spaces (e.g., the bathroom), directional/informational signs, overhead signs, and signs that identify accessible facilities and features. Basic requirements include:
- Signs must use contrasting colors between the content and the background and have a non-glare finish.
- Text must be in a sans serif font (e.g., Arial, Helvetica, Verdana) without italics or bold lettering. However, you can add a logo that contains decorative font.
- All letters must be uppercase.
- The letter height must range between 5/8” and 2”.
- Signs that identify a public area should be created in Grade 2 Braille. Braille spacing and sizing standards may vary by state.
- The sign’s tactile characters must be placed 48” to 60” from the ground.
- Where applicable, the sign must include the appropriate pictogram (e.g., the symbol for stairs, restroom, or a wheelchair).
We cannot overstate this: every type of sign has very precise criteria for its design and placement. It’s better not to guess. Talk to us before you start designing.
Some ADA Guidelines Apply to Digital Signage, Too
Since much digital/electronic signage falls under the umbrella of advertising, it may be exempt from ADA requirements. While the content of your digital signs isn’t technically covered by the 508 compliance criteria that apply to websites, you should still consider the principles of universal design:
- Equitable use
- Flexibility in use
- Simple and intuitive use
- Perceptible information
- Tolerance for error
- Low physical effort
- Size and space for approach and use
However, the physical sign itself will still need to be placed in accordance with ADA guidelines. Your sign or monitor can’t protrude more than 4” from a wall, and it must be installed at a height that’s a minimum of 27” off the ground and a maximum of 80”.
Real Benefits for Your Business
In addition to making your business accessible to more people and protecting yourself from the threat of penalties and lawsuits, ADA signage helps you stand out for the right reasons. Promoting your support of those with disabilities is good PR and can serve as an effective recruiting tool.
Your ADA signs don’t have to look generic, clinical, or institutional. FSI can help you create attractive signage that meets all of the basic requirements but still looks well-designed and fits your business. Contact us to learn more.