Characteristics of ADA-Compliant Restroom Signs: What Are the Requirements?
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Whether you’re a business owner, building manager, or fellow sign professional, meeting ADA restroom sign requirements is a must. If your or a client’s restroom signage isn’t compliant, it can lead to serious consequences. Unfortunately, following the guidelines for these types of signs can be tough if you’re not familiar with the criteria.
The good news?
We’ve compiled a list of the basic guidelines to make it easier. That way, you’ll better understand what an ADA-compliant restroom sign should look like. (And you can test the knowledge of any third-party fabricators you work with!)
Before delving into what features a display must have to be deemed compliant by ADA standards, let’s talk about why it all matters…
Why Meeting ADA Restroom Sign Requirements Is Important
If you’re planning to purchase new restroom signs for your building or outsource a client’s order, compliance is key. You need to make sure signage adheres to all the rules and regulations outlined for signs in the ADA Accessibility Standards. After all, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that all U.S. facilities open to the public must obey. And signage is specifically mentioned as a way of serving those who are visually impaired.
These ADA restroom sign requirements are in place for a reason. They ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same access to buildings as everyone else.
You risk running into serious issues if you obtain signage that doesn’t meet the criteria set by the ADA.
Here are a few examples:
- Individuals with visual impairments who visit your or a client’s facility may be unable to find their way around. This can lead to frustration on their part and a loss of business on yours and/or your client’s.
- If a person feels their access to a building is restricted due to a lack of proper signage, you or your client could be served with an ADA-related lawsuit.
- When the building undergoes a routine inspection, you or your client could get slapped with a sizeable fine for not having ADA-compliant restroom signs in place.
Above all else, you should want to meet ADA restroom signage requirements.
For Sign Professionals
As a sign professional, you should strive to meet ADA restroom sign requirements because doing so can benefit your business.
Offering compliant restroom signs can position you as a trustworthy expert in your clients’ eyes. Even if you outsource orders to a third-party fabricator, you’ll be taking steps to ensure they get the displays they need. Ultimately, you’ll be helping clients avoid legal troubles and helping your own business grow—just by delivering the proper restroom signage.
For Business Owners & Building Managers
If you’re a business owner or building manager, you should want to follow sign requirements because it paints your business in a positive light.
You may view signage as pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. In reality, adding ADA-compliant restroom signs doesn’t just help you stay compliant; it shows your organization cares about everyone who enters your facility. Employees, customers, and first-time visitors should all feel welcome in your building. And providing them with helpful information via easy-to-read signage can go a long way in making that happen.
By now, you have a better understanding of why you should take care to meet all ADA restroom sign requirements. Let’s talk about how you can do so by outlining the characteristics these displays must have.
What Are the Requirements for ADA-Compliant Restroom Signs?
The ADA restroom sign requirements—outlined in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and the Title III Regulations—are pretty extensive. Reading through them can make you feel overwhelmed. So, it helps to have a general resource you can refer to when ordering signage.
That’s why we’ve highlighted some of the most important characteristics that restroom signs should have to be considered ADA compliant.
Here are the four guidelines to keep in mind:
- Raised and Braille Characters
All restroom displays should be tactile signs. This means they should have both raised text and braille explaining who can use the space. Letters and numbers must be raised by at least 1/32 inch, designed in upper case, placed in sans serif or simple serif types of font, and accompanied by Grade 2 braille. All tactile characters must be at least 5/8 inches (or 16 mm) tall but should be no taller than 2 inches (50 mm).
Pictograms are also included in ADA restroom signage requirements. Signs should be designed with international symbols for gender (i.e., men, women, all gender, unisex) and accessibility, if applicable. The border dimension of any pictogram should be at least 6 inches (152 mm) in height. Other pictograms placed on restroom signs should also have a text descriptor of the picture directly below it—in both raised and braille characters.
- Finish and Contrast
The background and characters on any ADA restroom sign should be matte, eggshell, or another type of finish without a glare. Symbols and characters must have a stark contrast with the background—either light characters on a dark background or vice versa. Ideally, the contrast level should be roughly 70%.
If restroom signs are mounted permanently to a wall near a door, they should be placed on the wall that’s adjacent to the latch side of the door. For double doors with a single active leaf, the sign should be placed on the inactive leaf. For double doors with two active leaves, the sign should be placed to the right of the right-hand door. When wall space is limited, a sign should be mounted on the nearest adjacent wall. The specific location for mounting should be 60 inches above the finish floor to the center of the sign. Additionally, the sign should be mounted in a location with at least 18 inches by 18 inches of clear floor space beyond the arc of the door swing.
If the sign fabricator you hire is familiar with ADA rules and regulations, they’ll know to include such features in your displays. However, it’s always in your best interest to double-check any sign you purchase. That way, you can avoid any issues down the road.
Plus, as a member of your team (or your client’s) will likely be the one to hang the new signs, it’s crucial that you understand proper mounting requirements.
Why You Need to Keep Local Guidelines in Mind
It’s worth mentioning that the restroom sign requirements listed above refer to national standards. All facilities in the U.S. that are open to the public must follow them. But depending on where a business is located, there may also be state-mandated guidelines for all restroom signage.
California is a good example…
In “The Golden State,” public facilities must adhere to stringent guidelines regarding men’s, women’s, and gender-neutral restrooms.
In most cases, two signs must be installed to meet California ADA restroom sign requirements:
- A display that meets federal ADA restroom sign requirements
- A display that indicates the type of restroom it is by geometric symbol
So, you should take the time to read up on both national and state guidelines to ensure compliance regarding your signage.
Further, some cities have their own rules and regulations for ADA-compliant restroom signs. In any case, checking into local codes is in your best interest as well.
How to Ensure All ADA Restroom Signage Requirements Are Met
If you plan to order restroom signage soon, it’s best to be prepared. There are steps to take before and after you place your order to ensure all ADA restroom signage requirements are met.
Here’s a helpful checklist to follow:
- Determine how many restroom signs are needed.
There should be an ADA-compliant restroom sign next to every bathroom in the facility. So, the building owner or manager should audit all existing signage to see how many new signs are needed. each sign should be in good condition.
- Check if there are local or state guidelines you must follow.
The location of the facility should also be considered. There may be state or local guidelines to follow in addition to federal requirements. A look into local codes or a chat with a local building inspector is recommended.
- Choose a sign fabricator with expertise in ADA signage.
Whether you’re ordering signs yourself or outsourcing an order, choosing the right fabricator is essential. Narrow down the options by selecting one with expertise in ADA signage. They should be well versed in the ADA and specific sign guidelines.
- Confirm all required features are present on signs.
Once you’ve received the order, make sure all required features are present on the signs. Each display should have the appropriate text, braille, pictogram, matte finish, and high contrast between characters and background. Run through this list and confirm everything has been covered.
- Follow mounting instructions for restroom signage.
After the signs have been inspected, don’t forget they need to be mounted properly. Whether you’ll be installing them yourself, hanging them for a client, or simply giving instructions, it’s important to know the rules. In most cases, a restroom sign provided at a door should be placed on the wall adjacent to the latch side of the door.
ADA compliance rules for signs can seem complicated if you aren’t familiar with them, so make sure to revisit this resource the next time you wonder about ADA restroom sign requirements. Otherwise, you could wind up ordering displays that don’t meet national, state, or local guidelines. And this could result in negative consequences for your business and/or your client.
Feel free to contact us at Erie Custom Signs for more information about how you can ensure compliance with your signage. We are happy to work with you and answer any questions you have. If you’re interested in ADA-compliant restroom signs without any customization, take a look at the restroom signs in our e-commerce store. We have a wide array of signage crafted according to national ADA specifications. You can also check out our selection of predesigned sign packages that can be customized to fit your needs.
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