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ADA Compliant Signs 101

ADA Compliant Exit Signs at Deringer-Ney by G-Force Signs

ADA regulations are updated periodically and states can vary with their own regulations. Having an ADA compliant sign today requires either being current with new or proposed regulations, or partnering with a shop that is on top of ADA laws and regulations.


You are probably already aware that Braille is a component of ADA compliance. You may also be aware of raised lettering on a sign, where the sign is installed and how the sign is installed are part of the ADA formula. However, there is more to ADA compliance than just slapping Braille and raised lettering, or installing the sign at the correct height and location.

ADA laws are amended from time to time, which complicates compliance efforts – What was compliant last year many no longer be compliant this year. Adding to the frustration are individual states requiring slightly different standards, which can be a challenge for businesses that are moving or have multiple locations.

You have three choices when it comes to ensuring ADA compliant signage:

  1. Thoroughly read through the federal and your state’s regulations, and project manage the sign project.
  2. Organize a competent team from your business to educate themselves on the ADA, and have them project manage the ADA sign project.
  3. Partner with a reputable, experienced ADA sign shop to ensure compliance.


Whichever choice you make, having a basic understanding of the ADA and how it applies to signs is a must. Below we will review key elements of ADA compliant signage.

Let’s start with what the ADA is.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits any employer with 15 or more employees from discriminating against a qualified person with a disability. The law was enacted by US Congress in 1990. The US EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) administers and enforces the employment provisions of the ADA.

The ADA covers all employment practices and includes recruiting practices, and even advertisement. This law also covers employees who become disabled while working for you.

For this article, we will focus only on signs and signage compliance.

First, understand that to have an ADA compliant sign does not mean you have to discard a pleasing aesthetic for the the sign.  There is room in the regulations and guidelines to produce nice looking and compliant signs.

You may read through regulations on the United States Access Board, Chapter 7, “Communication Elements and Features.


Highlights from the regulations:

  • Braille
    • Must contracted (Grade 2) and comply with 703.3 & 704.4.
    • Braille height – Referred to as “Dot height”, must be a minimum 0.6mm up to the maximum 0.9mm
    • Braille position – must be below the corresponding text: Additional requirements exist if the text is multi-lined.
    • Installation height and location: Tactile characters on signs must be at least 48″ above the floor up to a maximum of 60″.  There is an exception for elevators
    • Location – At a door, the sign must be located alongside the door (latch side);  At double doors with an active leaf, on the side of the inactive leaf.  There are more rules and exceptions, so read up on the regulations for your particular project (follow the above “Chapter 7” link).


  • Letters
    • Letters cannot be smaller than 5/8” or larger than 2”.  There are also spacing and other requirements.
    • All letters must be a minimum 3/32” thick for tactility
    • San Serif fonts, like Helvetica for example, are generally used because you cannot use decorative or elaborate fonts.
    • The ADA defines font size, contrast and other criteria, but does not define specific design criteria as it relates to aesthetics


  • Material & Finishes
    • Signs can be made from a wide variety of materials, which can help with sign aesthetics
    • There are color contrast requirements – For example, the ADA guidelines recommend a 70% Light Reflective Value (LRV), which is not a strict requirement.
    • Non-glare finishes for foreground or background signs have requirements


ADA sign compliance requires due-diligence, which of course means putting in the time to read through the regulations.  If you plan to do an ADA sign project yourself, please carefully read through “Chapter 7” (link above).

If you have better use of your time and still need ADA-compliant signs, then give us a call or contact us on our web form, and an ADA sign specialist will get in touch with you.  We already did the due-diligence and can complete your project in a timely manner.

A free quote is always available! Call, email or submit our Free Quote Form.  860.787.5338 / [email protected]

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