Should You Be Offering Braille Engraving Services to Clients?
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Businesses will always require signage in some form or another, which makes sign fabrication such a lucrative industry. However, sign shops that offer specialized services, such as Braille engraving, can gain a competitive edge over their peers.
In determining whether or not your own shop should begin providing Braille engraving services, it’s important to look at all the facts. Specifically, you should consider the various applications, methods, potential selling opportunities, associated costs, and possible alternatives to in-house fabrication.
In doing so, you’ll have a much better idea of whether it’s something worth adding to your list of services…
Uses of Braille
Dating back to the 1800s, Braille has a rich history and continues to be used in a variety of applications. Without this tactile reading and writing system, those with visual impairments would be unable to enjoy books or even learn their native languages.
Further, the use of Braille in signage allows such individuals to navigate unfamiliar surroundings safely.
In terms of signage, the process of Braille engraving is frequently utilized to fabricate permanent displays that must adhere to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines. Some examples are as follows:
- Restroom signs
- Exit signs
- Room number signs
- Stairwell signs
- Elevator signs
Essentially, any sign that identifies a room, area, or space of which the purpose will remain the same for more than 7 days is required to have Braille.
Businesses That Need Braille Signage
Under Title III of the ADA, any business that is open to the public is required to adhere to ADA guidelines, which means having certain accessibility features in place—including signage.
Some of the facilities that fall under this category include…
- Assisted living facilities
- Entertainment venues
Given the wide range of businesses that must follow ADA guidelines, as well as the number of places Braille signage must be installed, you can see the opportunity that lies in offering Braille engraving services.
Benefits of Offering Braille Engraving
- You can expand your client pool.
If your current client pool is fairly narrow, opting to include Braille engraving in your list of services could expand it quite a bit. As previously mentioned, all businesses that are open to the public must adhere to ADA guidelines, which means many of their signs have to possess Braille lettering.
By advertising Braille engraving services in your community and online, you can garner interest from businesses that may not require banners, digital displays, or architectural signage but do need to update their facility for ADA compliance.
- You can set yourself apart from competitors.
Due to the fact that the sign industry is so lucrative, there are undoubtedly a number of businesses in your area that you have to compete with—not to mention those that sell their products online. As such, it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd and prove to potential clients that your shop is the right one for their needs.
However, by offering a specialized service such as Braille engraving, you may be able to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Since not every sign shop has the tools necessary to create Braille signage, adding engraving to your list of services could give you the chance to offer something your competitors can’t.
- You can increase your shop’s revenue.
Giving businesses the opportunity to order Braille signage from your shop can lead to a significant spike in revenue.
For starters, you’ll have a much larger client pool to work with, as all public facilities are required to have ADA-compliant signage. Further, since Braille lettering and other elements need to be clearly visible on signage to maintain compliance, past clients will return later for reorders.
Additionally, Braille signs are fairly inexpensive to fabricate—after, of course, you consider the initial investment into equipment and training…
Methods of Braille Engraving
It’s important to note that there are a few Braille engraving methods from which to choose.
If you’re interested in expanding your services to include Braille engraving, you should do more exhaustive research into what equipment and materials are needed for each method, as well as how much training your team will have to undergo.
Routed-out Braille – Though not as popular today, routed-out Braille was the first process introduced to create Braille signage. This method requires a rotary engraving machine, which is used to rout out material from the sign substrate. With this technique, you rout a cavity in the material and leave rounded dots. However, in order to apply this method, a special dome-shaped cutter is required to create Braille dots that meet ADA rules.
Raster® Braille – Raster® Braille has become the industry standard for Braille signage creation. To use this method, sign shops must have an engraver that’s compatible with the Raster® Braille System and a license from Accent Signage Systems—the company that has patented and trademarked the method. The process itself involves drilling holes in the sign substrate and inserting beads to create the Braille lettering.
Photopolymer – Photopolymer is growing in popularity as an alternative to the Raster® method, as it allows for signs to be created in one piece—eliminating the need for beads, which have a higher risk of being damaged. However, photopolymer fabrication does require additional equipment that can prove quite costly. A photopolymer processor, film printer, and hot stamp machine are needed to see this process through from start to finish.
It’s highly unlikely that the need for Braille signage will go away anytime soon, which means sign shops will continue to have an opportunity to expand their offerings by introducing Braille engraving services.
However, to do so requires no small investment. In addition to purchasing additional equipment and materials, sign shop owners need to account for the time spent training employees. Further, if the market for Braille signage proves to be less profitable than anticipated, sign shop owners may be left struggling to pay off equipment they rarely use…
Those with limited space and resources may be better off outsourcing Braille signage orders to a third party. By taking this approach, you can not only save on costs but also “test out” whether Braille engraving is something you want to pursue long term.