Understanding Fees for Non-Compliant Interior Signage

How to Avoid Fees for Interior Signage that is Non-ADA Compliant

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses must make their premises accessible to all with proper signage as per the ADA guidelines. Besides saving you money, proper signage helps you create an inclusive environment for your employees and visitors, reduces incidences of injury and accidents, and boosts efficiency.

Failure to comply with the guidelines puts your business at risk of non-compliance fines that can be anything between $75000 and $150000. Fortunately, you can avoid fees for signage non-compliance by working with a legal expert to help you understand and implement ADA signage requirements. You can also work with an experienced signage provider to help recommend signage that falls within the recommended guidelines. To help you stay compliant, below are signage guidelines to adhere to when creating permanent signage for your property or business.

1. Use Appropriate Font and Character Properties
For your signage to be ADA compliant, you need to use the right font, size of signage characters, as well as spacing. The acceptable signage font is sans Serif and may include Helvetica, Futura, and Verdana. You may not use italics, decorative, oblique, or script characters on the signage. Also, keep the font at a maximum stroke of 15 %. Doing so ensures that your signage is readable to everyone, including individuals with visual impairment.

You should also space the words and letters appropriately and ensure that all raised characters are uppercase. However, the use of uppercase and lowercase characters depends on the type of signage. The spacing between raised characters with rectangular cross-sections should be at least 1/8 inches, while those with other cross-sections should be a minimum of 1/16 inch. You should also separate signage characters from raised borders and decorative elements by 3/8 inches.
The size of the lettering should match ADA standards. The size depends on the distance between the signage and where the reader is expected to stand. Usually, the vertical height of signage characters should be between 5/8 and 2 inches. For visual and raised characters, they can be a minimum of 1/2 inch from the base.

2. Mounting Height and Positioning.
The mounting and position of the signage are crucial in ensuring convenience when navigating around your establishment. This is especially true for room-identifying signs to make them easy to spot and read. According to ADA guidelines, you should place room-identifying signs next to the room they identify. Signs with raised characters should sit on the door’s latch side.
It is advisable to mount your signage between 48 inches and 60 inches above the ground floor or finish surface. Overhead signs should have a minimum clearance space of 80 inches from the finished floor and the bottom of the sign. The standards also apply for a projection mounted sign extending 4 inches from the wall. Doing so makes the signage accessible to everyone, including the functionally blind.

3. Choose Contrasting Colors
When choosing colors for your signage, ensure there is a contrast between the lettering and the background. You can decide to have light lettering against a dark background or vice versa. When the letters and the background blend, it becomes difficult for those with limited vision to read the texts.

While the ADA does not provide the exact amount of contrast you should use on your signage, it is advisable to employ a contrast of 70% for the characters to stand out. Also, you don’t have to use specific colors, as long as they produce a stark contrast. You can use your brand’s contrasting colors for a better representation of your business while remaining compliant.

4. Use Non-Glare Material and Finish
The material and finish you choose for your signage can make your signage non-compliant to ADA’s regulations and cost you hefty fines. To make the contents of your signage as visible and accessible as possible, you need to choose non-glare materials and domed Braille beads. Some of the best non-glare materials to use are metal, ADA wood, and plastic.

The reason for non-glare material and finish is because the elderly and visually impaired cannot handle glare well. For the finish, consider using a matte or eggshell finish instead of reflective or shiny. Note that the non-glare material and finish guidelines only apply to indoor signs. As such, you don’t have to adhere to the rules for outdoor signage such as traffic and parking.

5. Place Braille at the Right Location
Braille elements on your signage ensure that the blind or those with reduced vision can easily navigate your establishment. It provides essential information to help them confirm where they are or need to be. It is also an excellent way to show inclusivity. According to the ADA guidelines, any signage that identifies a permanent space or room must include Braille text, preferably Grade 2 Braille.

Also, the Braille dots should have a round or dome shape and be immediately the sign’s text. Placing Braille immediately below the text on all signs creates a consistency that those with visual impairments rely on. Lastly, ensure that Braille is 3/8 inch away from other raised elements and texts on the sign.

For more clarification on signage laws, it is advisable to consult an expert to ensure you understand the guidelines.  If you need ADA-compliant signs, including advertising and marketing signage for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us.

SEGD 2012 ADA White Paper Update

Click here to access their ADA white paper, explaining ADA guidelines as it applies to signage design.