A common question customers ask us is whether or not their ADA Signs need Braille... not all of them do!
To Braille, or not to Braille
The intent of the Americans with Disabilites Act is to make sure people with disabilities have access to public places. Approximately 2.5 million Americans are legally blind , and there are millions more who suffer from limited vision due to other causes. So besides Braille and tactile lettering, ADA signs provide bold, high contrast identification of rooms for optimal readability.
A number of signs are not required to be ADA compliant, including building addresses, directories, parking signs and temporary signs (those which are in use for 7 days or less).
What rooms are legally required to have ADA signs?
The simple answer: permanent rooms and spaces. The rules applies to signs that provide designations, labels, or names for interior rooms or spaces where the sign is not likely to change - ADA Restroom Signs, ADA Room Signs, and Exit Signs, to name a few. Tactile (raised) text is required for to label or identify a permanent room or space (you can review the entire 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design here).
The key thing to remember is that if it's a room that is not likely to change, you are required to have an ADA compliant sign identifying it. Most rooms fall under this designation. Restrooms, vending areas, closets, etc. tend not to change function often and are required to have ADA signs.
An example of a room that might change functions often is a classroom (this year it’s Mz. Jone's Science classroom but next year it may be a Mr. Smith's Art classroom). A smart option for rooms that change uses or occupants often is to use an insert sign that identifies a room number with tactile text and Braille but has a changeable insert for the name.
Remember, even if an ADA sign is not required, it's still a good idea... making our buildings accessible to everybody is the right thing to do! The cost to identify a room with an ADA sign versus a non-ADA sign is only a few dollars more.
The Department of Justice has the ultimate responsibility for enforcing ADA regulations. In practice, though, the actual enforcement is handled by local code inspectors.Be sure to check with your local authorities before ordering!
Visit ADA.gov for more information.