How to Design a Suitable ADA Sign
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There are various factors to consider when designing ADA signage. Many entrepreneurs are concerned that the ADA sign design might turn out to be aesthetically unattractive. However, many ADA-compliant signs are designed with not only utility as a key factor but also aesthetic appeal.
These are mostly utilitarian signs for interiors. But at times, golden visual design assists individuals with disabilities to be able to read the ADA signage. Awareness of this fact will help you in the signage design process.
Let us understand how to create an excellent ADA sign design.
Get the Basics Right
This goal centers on how the ADA signage regulations and requirements will impact your design options. Your ADA signage should have elevated letters and/or Braille lettering for individuals who are visually impaired. The sign should use simple serif or sans-serif font with proper spacing between the letters to enable convenient reading.
Contrast is also an area of concern. Your ADA-compliant sign should have robust light-to-dark contrast and vice versa. A sign that has low contrast may be more challenging to read.
The colors of your ADA sign also relate to contrast. You should consider colors that have a reasonable degree of contrast, but be cautious. Specific colors may make the text appear as if it is swaying or “vibrating” off the background. This can be quite distracting.
Be Creative and Reinforce Your Branding
With some creativity, you can manage to create brand awareness when it comes to ADA sign design. In fact, you can actually use the same exact requirements that may seem to restrict you (such as contrast and font options) to put a particular brand in the spotlight.
There was a time when ADA signage was fairly basic and lacking in design. However, the regulations did not intend to limit the beauty, creativity, image use, or other design variables as long as the basic regulations were adhered to.
Consider this: You are working with a business that utilizes white and blue in their logo and other signs such as directories and lobby signage. You can subtly reinforce their brand if you use the same combination of colors in an ADA-compliant sign that your client wants to put up in their washrooms.
Using this color scheme in all of the ADA signage you outsource for your client would be an ideal method to increase brand awareness and successfully market their company.
Criteria That Must Be Met for ADA Compliance
There are a number of criteria that one needs to meet for ADA sign design:
- The necessary elements of the signage should consist of “eggshell, matte or other non-glare” medium. This does not imply that you cannot use reflective substances to make the signage more appealing. However, the ADA part of the signage should comprise non-reflective material. A glossimeter is utilized to examine the material’s reflectivity.
- The ADA sign must have a contrast ratio of 70 percent between the touchable lettering and the background behind such lettering. This involves the use of dark letters on a light background or the use of light letters on a darker background. This factor assists visually impaired individuals, enabling them to see and read the lettering more conveniently. However, it does not assist a totally blind person.
- The size of the lettering is specified as well. The tactile letters should be 1/32” thick. The lettering should be in the upper case. The tiniest lettering allowed in ADA signage is 5/8” tall. The biggest letters are 2” tall. Any lettering outside these dimensions is not acceptable. Hanging ADA signs or projection signage has a different set of rules.
- The font or type style is also specified. You are not confined to a single font type, though the typestyle family is quite specific. Fonts must be “simple serif” or “sans-serif” in ADA sign design. This implies that you cannot use italics, scripts, or anything fancy or exaggerated. It is important to remember that the blind should easily be able to follow the lettering with their fingers.
Note: There is no limitation on other lettering, images, type styles, or logos being used in signage as long as the necessary text is present in a manner that does not cause confusion and meets the requirements.
- The type style also has requirements other than the font style and size. The dimension of the lettering is also vital. The width-height ratio of the characters should be 3:5 and 1:1. The upstroke width-height ratio of the letter should be 1:1.5 to 1:10. The dimensions are measurable easily via a micrometer. However, fonts such as Futura Regular and Helvetica Medium are usually acceptable as they meet these stipulations.
Elements in Fabricating ADA Signage
When fabricating an ADA-compliant sign, many factors are involved:
- Plate: The platform that holds everything.
- Tactile Lettering: Characters that are elevated 1/32” above the sign’s background.
- Braille: Braille has three variants. ADA stipulates grade II Braille. This type of Braille provides for contradictions that significantly decrease the number of characters utilized. It does not directly translate letters (Grade I). A majority of engraving software includes a translation module for this purpose.
- Pictogram: A pictogram refers to an International symbol that is made in the same manner as tactile lettering. Though pictograms are typically made with the same 1/32” gauge substance as tactile letters, it does not need to be tactile. These symbols must be accommodated in a field that is at least 6” in height. Pictograms are not necessary on all signage. Room numbers, office signage, etc. do not require pictograms. However, signage such as phone, washroom, no smoking, etc. does require pictograms.
The area where the ADA sign is mounted is also vital. If possible, ADA signage should be mounted on the wall adjacent to the appropriate door or next to the door handle. They should be installed such that there is 60” from the floor to the center of the signage and 3” from the frame of the door.