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Understanding ADA Sign Mounting Height Requirements

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Whether you’re installing ADA-compliant signs in your own building or working to outfit a client’s facility with ADA signage, there are several factors to take into consideration.

One aspect that tends to cause some confusion among those unfamiliar with the full scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act is ADA sign mounting height requirements.

That’s why we wanted to take the opportunity to go over a few key issues, including…

Armed with this information, sign providers and business owners can take the necessary steps to make sure all compliance signs meet ADA sign mounting height requirements, thereby avoiding noncompliance issues and allowing all individuals with a visual impairment to navigate the building safely.

Why It’s Important to Have Knowledge of ADA Sign Mounting Height Requirements

Many people are under the assumption that, as long as ADA signage has the necessary features, the hard work is over.

However, ADA-compliant signs are not just about the Braille, font, color, or tactile characters. Installing such signs incorrectly can cause signage to be noncompliant, which can lead to damaging lawsuits or hefty fines.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) requires ADA signage to be mounted in the most uniform manner throughout buildings across the country in an effort to afford visually impaired and sightless persons a method of locating and identifying exactly where they are. Buildings that are accessible to the general public are required to adhere to these rules and frequently, complying with these rules does not make sense to people who take sight for granted.

A scenario…

At Erie Custom Signs, we recommend that our clients imagine they are sightless and in some public building conducting their day-to-day business. Suddenly, a fire alarm is sounded, and they must evacuate the building as quickly as possible under chaotic conditions. With panic ensuing and people scrambling to escape, the visually impaired person must make their way out of the building. With their life in danger, attempting to locate an exit and mistaking the janitor’s closet or a storage room for an exit door could cost them their life! Knowing where to find the identifying sign is as important as the information contained on the sign.

A visually impaired person knows where the signs are supposed to be.

Do you?

ADA Sign Mounting Height Requirements under the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

In September 2010, the DOJ adopted a new set of ADA Compliant Signage standards. These standards took effect on March 15, 2012 and replaced the DOJ’s original ADA Standards. The DOJ’s Standards apply to facilities covered by the ADA, including places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities.

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design give us these requirements:

As with most government documents, interpreting the ADA sign mounting height requirements can be somewhat subjective and open to interpretation. The simplest approach is as follows:

Install your Braille signs on the latch side of the door no lower than 48 inches from the floor, and no higher than 60 inches from the floor.

To get a visual representation of the placement needed for ADA signs, we marked the walls in our own office as though we were mounting a hotel room sign. We discovered that if an individual of roughly 5 feet stood in front of a sign mounted so the bottom of the top line of text was at 60 inches, it would be right at their eye level. The 48-inch mark seems low at first glance, but this height makes sense, as it allows a person confined to a wheelchair to reach the sign if they also happened to be blind or had a vision impairment.

Details such as these are not arbitrary, or made up by a random person who made a decision. Much of the ADA code is suggested by the United States Access Board.

click to download ultimate guide to mounting ADA signs

How to Ensure That Signs Are Mounted Correctly

What if you are installing an ADA sign near double doors? What if there is not enough space to mount the sign in the specified location?

With the former scenario, it depends on whether there is a single active leaf or if both leaves are in use. With the latter, the sign may be installed on the nearest adjacent wall in a clearly visible location.

We discuss specific hanging guidelines in another article. In any unique situation, it’s vital to review the ADA sign mounting height requirements under the 2010 Standards to ensure that you’re installing your signage in a way that allows for easy visibility.

You can access a PDF of the 2010 ADA guide here. Once that is open, follow these steps:

  1. Go to edit
  2. Select search
  3. Type 703 into the search window

That will take you to the chapter on signs and allow you to familiarize yourself with some basic requirements.

However, it’s also important to keep in mind that there are rules and guidelines specific to each state. That’s why we recommend reaching out to local and state inspectors prior to installing signage. Such individuals are knowledgeable about ADA sign mounting height requirements and can be consulted when there are discrepancies in your understanding of what you’re required to do to meet ADA compliance.

Takeaway

Having a firm grasp of ADA sign mounting height requirements is a key part of achieving compliance, which is why it’s well worth familiarizing yourself with the rules. Otherwise, you risk making a minor error that could result in significant fines or loss of business.

If you still find yourself with questions or concerns about installing ADA signage, feel free to reach out to the experts at Erie Custom Signs.

Filed Under: ADA Signage

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