A Guide to ADA Compliant Fonts for Signage
Table of contents
- General Rules for ADA Compliant Fonts for Signage
- FAQs about ADA Compliant Font Guidelines
- Popular ADA Compliant Fonts
- Resources for Finding ADA Compliant Fonts
To ensure a sign meets ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements, there are several elements that must be included in the display.
One of the most important and often misunderstood elements is font.
For those who aren’t well versed in ADA rules and regulations, getting a firm grasp of ADA compliant fonts for signage can be difficult.
Fortunately, we’ve created a helpful guide that addresses…
- General rules for ADA compliant fonts for signage
- FAQs about ADA compliant font guidelines
- Popular ADA compliant fonts
- Resources for finding ADA compliant fonts
With the information provided, sign fabricators and their clients can determine exactly what font case, style, and size is needed on signage to avoid running into noncompliance issues.
General Rules for ADA Compliant Fonts for Signage
In the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, the ADA outlines a number of criteria that must be met for compliance, including those pertaining to signage.
In fact, the rules for ADA compliant fonts on signage are very strict, relating to character style, size, case, height, and more.
The rules are as follows:
- 1 General. Signs shall comply with 703. Where both visual and tactile characters are required, either one sign with both visual and tactile characters or two separate signs—one with visual and one with tactile characters—shall be provided.
- 2 Raised Characters. Raised characters shall comply with 703.2 and shall be duplicated in braille complying with 703.3. Raised characters shall be installed in accordance with 703.4.
- 2.2 Case. Characters shall be uppercase.
- 2.3 Style. Characters shall be sans serif. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.
- 2.4 Character Proportions. Characters shall 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.”
- 2.5 Character Height. Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 5/8 inch (16 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter “I.”
- 2.6 Stroke Thickness. Stroke thickness of the uppercase letter “I” shall be 15 percent maximum of the character’s height.
- 2.7 Character Spacing. Character spacing shall be measured between the two closest points of adjacent raised characters within a message, excluding word spaces. Where characters have rectangular cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum. Where characters have other cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the base of the cross sections, and 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the top of the cross sections. Characters shall be separated from raised borders and decorative elements 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) minimum.
- 2.8 Line Spacing. Spacing between the baselines of separate lines of raised characters within a message shall be 135 percent minimum and 170 percent maximum of the raised character height.
FAQs about ADA Compliant Font Guidelines
Though the rules are fairly straightforward, it’s not uncommon to have lingering questions about ADA compliant fonts, which is why we’ve addressed a few FAQs below.
1) Is larger font ADA compliant?
The short answer is yes. To achieve compliance, a larger font is required on all ADA signage. However, it’s important to highlight that the size of the font should be between 5/8 and 2 inches.
2) Does all text have to be sans serif?
Under 703.2.3 of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, all important text on signage (such as the name of the room being identified by the sign) must be sans serif with no italics or overly bold lettering. However, if a business desires to add a logo containing a decorative font, this is acceptable.
3) What are the consequences of not using an ADA compliant font?
Though the misuse of font may seem like a minor issue in regard to ADA compliance, it can result in negative consequences for a business. By installing a sign that doesn’t have the appropriate font, businesses can be hit with ADA-related lawsuits or fines.
Popular ADA Compliant Fonts
Despite providing detailed text and character requirements for signage, the ADA doesn’t explicitly state what fonts are permitted. The only style guideline given is that fonts must be sans serif and not italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or otherwise unusual.
Sans serif fonts are ones that are as plain and straight as possible, increasing the ease of readability.
Examples of recommended fonts for ADA signage that meet the above criteria include the following:
- AvantGarde MD BT
- Avenir LT Std
- Century Gothic, Regular
- Franklin Gothic
- Frutiger LT
- Futura Std
- Futura MdCn BT
- Gill Sans Std
- Myriad Pro
- Rotis Sans Serif Std
- Stone Sans ITC
- Swis721 BT
- Vag Rounded
Resources for Finding ADA Compliant Fonts
There is a variety of resources online where you can download fonts if you are in need of additional sans serif options.
Examples include DaFont.com, 1001freefonts.com, and FontSpace.com. These sites have thousands of font options of all different types, as well as standard sans serif options.
If downloading fonts to a computer running Windows, make sure to save all fonts to the C://Windows/Fonts folder on your computer. They will automatically install when saved to that location, which means you will be able to use them on any program that fetches fonts from your computer, from Microsoft Word to Photoshop and InDesign.
The rules surrounding ADA compliant fonts may be complex, but failing to use the correct size, style, spacing, and type could result in a sign failing to meet compliance. That’s why it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with ADA guidelines to avoid potential lawsuits and other noncompliance issues.
For more information about the types of fonts you can and cannot use for your next signage project, contact us today at Erie Custom Signs. We pride ourselves on being ADA experts, so you can receive the most accurate, up-to-date information possible.