What You Need to Know About New ADA Signage Regulations

Approximately 2.5 million Americans are legally blind, according to statistics from the Department of Justice. That means that even with the use of a corrective lens, a person has central visual acuity of 20/200 or less. Millions more suffer from medical conditions, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, which severely limit their vision.

While there’s a perception that most visually impaired people use Braille, the DOJ reports that only about 5% actually do. Instead, most use tactile copy.

To meet their needs, new Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) have been issued by the American National Standards Institute, the International Building Code, and the ADA Advisory Council. And, as of March 15, 2012, all ADA-covered facilities must comply with these new standards, which impact typeface and character width, among other elements.

Here’s an overview of just some of the requirements and how they will affect ADA signage on your projects:

  • Typeface. All tactile copy must be raised at least 1/32 of an inch above the sign’s surface. Also, no italicized or decorative fonts (including Times Roman, Garamond, and Goudy) are permissible; all characters must be sans serif.
  • Character Width. Character width needs to be uniform and consistent. Therefore, characters must be at least an 1/8 of an inch apart, but not more than four times the character’s stroke width, at the closest points between adjacent characters.
  • Braille Positioning. Grade II Braille characters must be placed beneath the tactile copy and they must be rounded and raised .025 to .037 inches above the sign’s surface.
  • Character Height. Overhead signs that are less than 10 feet off the ground must have characters at least 2 inches tall; those more than 10 feet off the ground must have characters larger than 3 inches tall.
  • Sign Height. The distance from the floor to the bottom of a sign’s tactile characters must be at least 4 feet, but cannot exceed 5 feet.

If you have any questions, or a project in mind, please give us a call. At Cooper Sign Co., we have the expertise and equipment to ensure your project’s signage is accurate, attractive – and completely ADA compliant. We look forward to serving you!

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