Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Hand reading braille on an ADA compliant permanent too sign.

The following is a summary of ADA regulations related to signage and wayfinding based on the Department of Justice's 2010 revision of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. As of March 15, 2012 compliance with the 2010 Standards are required for new construction and alterations under Titles II and III.

ADA law mandates sign position, finish and contrast, typestyles, character height, and Braille requirements. All facilities, both public and private, with ten or more employees are affected.

Finish and Contrast

Characters and background shall have a non–glare finish. There must also be adequate contrast with their background with either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background.

Typestyles and Character Height

Characters must utilize a sans serif typestyle. The stroke width on the typefaces' uppercase "I" must not exceed 15% of the letter's height. For permanent room signs, tactile characters must be upper case and a minimum of 5/8" and no more than 2" in height. 1/8" spacing between each letter is required regardless of character height. Overhead and flag mounts to have a character size of 2". Upper and lower case are permissible. For directional signage, character height must be appropriate for the viewing distance. Again, upper and lower case characters may be utilized.

Figure 1: example of all uppercase tactile character "A" and incorrect lower case character "a" Figure 2: Example of incorrect serif characters and correct sans serif character. Figure 3: Diagram of minimum and maximum tactile character height.

Tactile Characters and Braille

For permanent room signs, characters must be raised a minimum of 1/32" and accompanied with grade II Braille. Braille shall be domed in shape… flat, square cornered Braille shall be avoided. Raised copy and Braille are not required on overhead or directional signage.

Figure 1: Diagram of raised copy Figure 2: Diagram of correct domed braille and incorrect flat top braille.


Pictograms must have a background field of at least 6". If text is utilized, it must be placed directly below the symbol and not within the field.

Four pictogram samples including restroom, stairs, and a downward arrow.

Sign Position

Room Identification – where a tactile sign is located at a room with a single door, the sign shall be on the latch side. Where a tactile sign is provided at double doors with one active leaf, the sign shall be on the inactive leaf. Where a tactile sign is provided at double doors with two active leafs, the sign shall be to the right of the right hand door.

Note: if a lack of wall space precludes any of the prescribed locations, the sign may be located at the nearest adjacent wall.

Mounting Heights

Tactile Signs: Required to be mounted so that the bottom of the raised characters is between 48" and 60" above the floor.

Overhead Signage: Suggested to have an 80"clearance from floor to bottom of sign.

Flag Mounted Signage: Suggested to have an 80" clearance from floor to bottom of sign if the projection from the wall is 4" or greater.

Directories and Directional:Visual characters suggested to be 40" minimum above finished floor.

This is a sampling of relevant requirements. Takeform is an ADA expert – be assured that we'll help you meet these and all regulations.

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Posted in: ADA, Interior Signage, Wayfinding  |  Tagged: ADA Compliance, ADA standards, Americans with Disabilities Act, Directional Signage, Graphics, Interior Design, Permanent Room Sign, room id, Signage, Wayfinding

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