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Guidelines for Americans with Disabilities Act compliant signs for commercial properties.

 ADA Sign Guidelines

Derived from a white paper written by SEGD.

The ADAAG: Old and New

This document covers changes to the ADAAG. The summary is specific, but separates out sections where more than one rule is covered. The New ADAAG is currently being reviewed by The Transport Board, but is already incorporated into the International Building Code.

Height of Raised Letters

New ADAAG 703.2.5: Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 5/8 inch (16 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter "I". EXCEPTION: Where separate raised and visual characters with the same information are provided, raised character height shall be permitted to be 1/2 inch (13 mm) minimum.

Old ADAAG 4.30.4: Raised characters shall be at least 5/8 in (16 mm) high, but no higher than 2 in (50 mm).

Capitalization and Style of Raised Letters

New ADAAG 703.2.2: Characters shall be uppercase.

New ADAAG 703.2.3: Characters shall be sans serif. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.

Old ADAAG 4.30.4: Letters and numerals shall be raised 1/32 in (0.8 mm) minimum, upper case, sans serif, or simple serif type, and shall be accompanied with Grade 2 Braille.

Depth of Raised Letters

New ADAAG 703.2.1: Raised characters shall be 1/32 inch (0.8 mm) minimum above their background.

Old ADAAG 4.30.4: Letters and numerals shall be raised 1/32 in (0.8 mm)

Character Proportion and Stroke Width

New ADAAG 703.2.4: Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter "O" is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter "I".

Old ADAAG 4.30.2: Letters and numbers on signs shall have a width-to-height ratio between 3:5 and 1:1 and a stroke width-to-height ratio between 1:5 and 1:10.

Letter Spacing

New ADAAG 703.2.7: Character spacing shall be measured between the two closest points of adjacent raised characters within a message, excluding word spaces. Where characters have rectangular cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum. Where characters have other cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the base of the cross sections, and 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the top of the cross sections.

Old ADAAG: Not Listed

Visual Character Height

New ADAAG 703.5.5

Height to Finish Floor or Ground From Baseline of Character

Horizontal Viewing Distance

Minimum Character Height

40 inches (1015 mm) to less than or equal to 70 inches (1780 mm)

less than 72 inches (1830 mm)

5/8 inch (16 mm)

 

72 inches (1830 mm) and greater

5/8 inch (16 mm), plus 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) per foot (305 mm) of viewing distance above 72 inches (1830 mm)

Greater than 70 inches (1780 mm) to less than or equal to 120 inches (3050 mm)

less than 180 inches (4570 mm)

2 inches (51 mm)

 

180 inches (4570 mm) and greater

2 inches (51 mm), plus 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) per foot (305 mm) of viewing distance above 180 inches (4570 mm)

Greater than 120 inches (3050 mm)

less than 21 feet (6400 mm)

21 feet (6400 mm) and greater

 

3 inches (75 mm)

3 inches (75 mm), plus 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) per foot (305 mm) of viewing distance above 21 feet (6400 mm)

Old ADAAG 4.30.3

Height Above Finished Floor

Minimum Character Height

Suspended or Projected Overhead in compliance with 4.4.2

3 in (75 mm) minimum

Dual Signs

New ADAAG 703.1:Where both visual and tactile characters are required, either one sign with both visual and tactile characters, or two separate signs, one with visual, and one with tactile characters, shall be provided.

Old ADAAG: Not Listed

Legible Type

New ADAAG 703.5.2: Characters shall be uppercase or lowercase or a combination of both.

New ADAAG 703.5.3: Characters shall be conventional in form. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.

Old ADAAG: Not Listed

The Position of Braille and Tactile Text on Signs

New ADAAG 703.3.2: Braille shall be positioned below the corresponding text. If text is multi-lined, Braille shall be placed below the entire text. Braille shall be separated 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) minimum from any other tactile characters and 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) minimum from raised borders and decorative elements. EXCEPTION: Braille provided on elevator car controls shall be separated 3/16 inch (4.8 mm) minimum and shall be located either directly below or adjacent to the corresponding raised characters or symbols.

Old ADAAG: Not Listed

Height of Text and Braille Above the Ground

New ADAAG 703.4.1: Tactile characters on signs shall be located 48 inches (1220 mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured from the baseline of the lowest tactile character and 60 inches (1525 mm) maximum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured from the baseline of the highest tactile character. EXCEPTION: Tactile characters for elevator car controls shall not be required to comply with 703.4.1.

Old ADAAG 4.30.6: Mounting height shall be 60 in (1525 mm) above the finish floor to the centerline of the sign.

Position of Tactile Text on Signs

New ADAAG 703.2.8: Spacing between the baselines of separate lines of raised characters within a message shall be 135 percent minimum and 170 percent maximum of the raised character height.

Old ADAAG: Not Listed

Position of Tactile Signs

New ADAAG 703.4.2: Where a tactile sign is provided at a door, the sign shall be located alongside the door at the latch side. Where a tactile sign is provided at double doors with one active leaf, the sign shall be located on the inactive leaf. Where a tactile sign is provided at double doors with two active leafs, the sign shall be located to the right of the right hand door. Where there is no wall space at the latch side of a single door or at the right side of double doors, signs shall be located on the nearest adjacent wall. Signs containing tactile characters shall be located so that a clear floor space of 18 inches (455 mm) minimum by 18 inches (455 mm) minimum, centered on the tactile characters, is provided beyond the arc of any door swing between the closed position and 45 degree open position. EXCEPTION: Signs with tactile characters shall be permitted on the push side of doors with closers and without hold-open devices.

Old ADAAG 4.30.6: Where permanent identification is provided for rooms and spaces, signs shall be installed on the wall adjacent to the latch side of the door. Where there is no wall space to the latch side of the door, including at double leaf doors, signs shall be placed on the nearest adjacent wall. Mounting location for such signage shall be so that a person may approach within 3 in (76 mm) of signage without encountering protruding objects or standing within the swing of a door.

See above example in ADAAG 703.4.1

Position of Visual Text and Signs

New ADAAG 703.5.6: Visual characters shall be 40 inches (1015 mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground. EXCEPTION:Visual characters indicating elevator car controls shall not be required to comply with 703.5.6.

Old ADAAG: Not Listed

Size and Position of Symbols on Signs

New ADAAG 703.6.1: Pictograms shall have a field height of 6 inches (150 mm) minimum. Characters and Braille shall not be located in the pictogram field.

New ADAAG 703.6.3: Pictograms shall have text descriptors located directly below the pictogram field. Text descriptors shall comply with 703.2, 703.3, and 703.4.

Old ADAAG 4.30.4: Pictograms shall be accompanied by the equivalent verbal description placed directly below the pictogram. The border dimension of the pictogram shall be 6 in (152 mm) minimum in height.

Color Contrast

New ADAAG 703.5.1: Characters and their background shall have a non-glare finish. Characters shall contrast with their background with either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background.

Old ADAAG 4.30.5: The characters and background of signs shall be eggshell, matte, or other non-glare finish. Characters and symbols shall contrast with their background—either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background.

Braille and Tactile Fonts

New ADAAG 703.3: Braille shall be contracted (Grade 2) and shall comply with 703.3 and 703.4.

Old ADAAG 4.30.4: Letters and numerals shall be raised 1/32 in (0.8 mm) minimum, upper case, sans serif, or simple serif type and shall be accompanied with Grade 2 Braille.

Braille Dimensions Measurement Range

New ADAAG 703.3.1:

Measurement range

Min. in inches/Max. in inches

Dot base diameter

0.059 (1.5 mm) to 0.063 (1.6 mm)

Distance between two dots in the same cell

0.090 (2.3 mm) to 0.100 (2.5 mm)

Distance between corr. dots in adjacent cells

0.241 (6.1 mm) to 0.300 (7.6 mm)*

Dot height

0.025 (0.6 mm) to 0.037 (0.9 mm)

Distance between dots from one cell directly below

0.395 (10.0 mm) to 0.400 (10.2 mm)

*Measured center to center

Old ADAAG: Not Listed

Braille Shape

New ADAAG 703.3.1: Braille dots shall have a domed or rounded shape and shall comply with Table 703.3.1. The indication of an uppercase letter or letters shall only be used before the first word of sentences, proper nouns and names, individual letters of the alphabet, initials, and acronyms.

Old ADAAG: Not Listed

Color Contrast and Finish

New ADAAG Appendix to Part 1192 (Advisory Guidance Not Mandatory): The characters and background of signs should be eggshell, matte, or other non-glare finish. An eggshell finish (11 to 19 degree gloss on 60 degree glossimeter) is recommended. Characters and symbols should contrast with their background - either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background. Research indicates that signs are more legible for persons with low vision when characters contrast with their background by at least 70 percent.

Old ADAAG Appendix 4.32:

 

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