Mar 26, 2019

One type of workplace signage isn’t optional. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires workplaces and businesses to post signs that inform people of the locations, functions, and accessibility of rooms. The purpose is to make the workplace accessible to all. For that reason, the Act lays out the specs for ADA compliant signs.


If signs are to promote accessibility, the signs themselves must be accessible. ADA regs, therefore, define the height range within which wall, door, and free-standing signs must be placed Signs at this height range can be touched by most people. Hence, they must have Braille text in addition to the printed. Overhead signage is exempt from the Braille requirement.


The ADA regulations also have in mind persons who have impaired vision but don’t use Braille. There are common impairments that need to be accommodated. Glaucoma and macular degeneration are some examples. Signage text has to be visually easy to read. For instance, fonts have to be simple and sans serif. The Act sets a range of allowed font sizes. Letters must be raised, so that like Braille characters, a person can touch and feel them. Here again, overhead signs that are out of reach don’t have to have raised letters.

The Act also addresses glare and contrast in signage. Compliant signs have non-glare finishes. There’s flexibility with regard to color. There has to be a high level of contrast, though, between the lettering and the background.


The ADA recognizes that some peoples’ challenges are cognitive rather than purely visual. Hence, signs’ messages have to be simply and clearly worded. Furthermore, the text should avoid making assumptions about a reader’s knowledge. It should provide all the information a stranger would need. It should be worded in a way that most anyone can read can understand.

The Act goes into fairly fine detail regarding the physical features of ADA-compliant signage. The comprehension mandate, of course, is less specific. Its intent, however, is clear. GraphPlex’s long experience with the ADA mandates assures our clients’ full compliance.


Failure to comply with the ADA invites enforcement actions. Large fines are possible. If all this seems a burden, look at the other side of the story. Accessibility is good for business. Employees, customers, and visitors with challenges feel welcome. It’s not just legal, it’s socially responsible. Moreover, the ADA-compliant signage we design is attractive as well as functional. It enhances a workplace’s interior design. Our philosophy is that compliance should be a beautiful thing all around.

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