ADA Sign Placement: Where Are ADA Signs Required?
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Chances are you already know that facilities open to the public need to have the proper signage mounted throughout the building. After all, it’s a major part of complying with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But what you may not be familiar with are the specifics of ADA sign placement.
As a sign shop owner, you should be knowledgeable about where ADA signs are required.
The need for ADA-compliant signage gives you the opportunity to provide current and future clients with displays they’re legally obligated to have. However, breaking into this market requires at least a basic understanding of ADA guidelines. That way, you can help clients avoid the negative repercussions of non-compliance and ensure every visitor has access to the building.
To make things easier for you, we’ve addressed some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding this topic, including…
- Why is ADA sign placement so important?
- Where are ADA signs required?
- What specific rooms are required to have ADA signs?
- How do you determine whether a space is temporary or permanent?
- What other rules are there for ADA sign placement?
By getting a better grasp of ADA sign placement, you can work with your clients to determine exactly how many compliant displays are needed to ensure a given building meets ADA standards.
Why Is ADA Sign Placement So Important?
First things first, proper ADA sign placement is important for—you guessed it—ensuring ADA compliance. There are several features building inspectors look at to determine if a building is up to code, and signage is one of them. If the right signs aren’t installed in the right places, a business could face serious consequences, including…
- Fines for noncompliance in the tens of thousands of dollars
- Costly ADA-related lawsuits filed by individuals with disabilities
- Loss of business because of bad PR
Further, failing to advise your clients on correct ADA sign placement when you’re aiming to be an authority could ruin your credibility.
Where Are ADA Signs Required?
Those who aren’t well versed in ADA sign specifications often pose the same question: “Where are ADA signs required?” The short answer is ADA signs are required in any building that is open to the public. Typically, these displays must be installed at the doorway of every permanent room and space.
Because translating the ADA—and even 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design—can be a challenge, the tips below are helpful when it comes to understanding ADA sign placement in depth.
- ADA-compliant signs (i.e., displays with braille and tactile elements, among other features) are required when the purpose is to designate a permanent space in a building. This means that such signage should be installed next to all areas that will retain the same function for more than 7 days.
- ADA-compliant signs are not needed when they’ll only be in use for 7 days or less. This means that such signage is not necessary for identifying a temporary space in a building.
- ADA-compliant signs are not required in parking lots (except for accessible parking spaces), in areas not meant for public use, or outside of the building where a business’s name/address is provided. This means that any area of the building with signage that provides nonessential information isn’t held to ADA standards.
- ADA-compliant signs are needed when an area of the building pertains to safety. This means that such signage should be installed next to elevators, fire exits, and stairways.
To avoid running into non-compliance issues, all traditional businesses and private places that are open to the public should follow the above guidelines.
What Specific Rooms Are Required to Have ADA Signs?
As previously mentioned, all permanent spaces and rooms must have ADA-compliant signs in place.
According to Section 216.2 of the ADA, buildings must have compliant signs that provide labels, names, or designations for interior spaces or rooms where the sign is not likely to change over the course of time and will serve the same function for more than one week.
Common examples would include interior signs meant to label the following:
- Room/floor numbers or letters
- Conference rooms
- Storage rooms
- Changing rooms
- Exam rooms
- Electrical rooms
- Break rooms
- IT rooms
- Mechanical rooms
- Utility rooms
- And more…
It’s worth noting that tactile text descriptors are also required if the sign contains pictograms that label or identify a permanent space or room.
How Do You Determine Whether a Space Is Temporary or Permanent?
Although the wording of “not likely to change” under Section 216.2 of the ADA gives a little bit of leeway, most rooms will still fall under the designation of a permanent space. For example, restrooms, kitchens, and closets are all designed with specific functionality in mind. So, they would require significant overhauls if they were to be used for another purpose.
One example of a room that could be considered at least somewhat likely to change would be a classroom. It could be an art lab one year and a math classroom the next, depending on the needs of the school. Therefore, an ADA-compliant sign might not necessarily be required if it can be reasonably expected to change use frequently.
Other examples of temporary spaces may include exhibit areas, health screening areas, bleacher areas, or passageways around construction areas.
A good rule of thumb for determining whether a space is considered temporary or permanent is as follows: If the walls are connected to the ceiling, the wall, or both, it is considered permanent.
What Other Rules Are There for ADA Sign Placement?
In addition to knowing where ADA-compliant displays must go, a vital part of ensuring proper ADA sign placement is understanding how signs must be installed.
When mounting ADA signs in a public facility, the following guidelines should be kept in mind:
- ADA signs with braille and tactile elements should be installed on the latch side of the door to the room being identified.
- ADA signs should measure no lower than 48 inches from the floor to the bottom of the lowest row of text, and no higher than 60 inches from the floor to the top of the highest text.
- If there is not enough space to mount the sign in the specified location, it may be installed on the nearest adjacent wall in a clearly visible location.
- Generally, ADA signs should not be mounted directly on a door. Exceptions: For double doors with one active leaf, a sign should be installed on the inactive leaf. When there is no wall space available, an ADA sign may also be mounted directly on a door if it closes automatically and does not have a hold-open device.
Additional rules for hanging ADA signs can be found here.
Ultimately, ADA-compliant signs are required for permanent rooms and any areas related to the safety of those in a building open to the public.
However, even if ADA signs are not required for a particular room, it’s still a good idea to have them. Rather than meeting the bare minimum in terms of ADA standards, an organization’s focus should be on efforts that will make the building more accessible for everyone.
It’s simply the right thing to do.
Plus, it doesn’t cost a significant amount of money to add extra signs for rooms that may or may not be legally required to have them. This is a great opportunity for upselling additional signs to public buildings!
Knowledge matters. If you have additional questions about ADA sign placement or other compliance standards, contact us today at Erie Custom Signs for more information.