FONT ~ very important
ADA compliant signs should be designed and produced with sans serif, uppercase fonts with a regulated character size. Some sans serif font options include Futura Medium, Myriad Pro, Univers Medium, Helvetica (which we use) and Arial.
San serif fonts are ones that are as plain and straight as possible, which increased the ease of readability.
The language in the 2010 Standard for Accessible Design is very straightforward:
“703.2.2 Case. Characters shall be uppercase. 703.2.3 Style. Characters shall be sans serif. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms. 703.2.4 Character Proportions. 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”. 703.2.5 Character Height. 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”.”
KERNING ~ spacing between lettering
With the 2010 ADA standards the spacing needs to be a minimum of 1/8” between the two closest points of any straight sided tactile (raised) characters, and 1/16” spacing for beveled tactile characters.
“703.2.7 Character Spacing. 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. Characters shall be separated from raised borders and decorative elements 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) minimum.”
CHARACTER SIZE ~ yep it matters and is regulated
The size of the tactile lettering is simple, per the ADA standards. The minimum height is 5/8” and the maximum is 2” tall.
“703.2.5 Character Height. 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”.”
The 2010 ADA Standards have specific rules relating to the Braille dots. The standards cover the structure of the dots, the cell spacing and placement. In the US, signs are required to use Grade II Braille, which incorporated 189 contradictions and short-hand words. The condensed braille makes better use of the limited space available on most signs.
703.3.1 Dimensions and Capitalization. Braille dots shall have a domed or rounded shape and shall comply with Table 703.3.1.”
SIGNAGE MOUNTING HEIGHT
The 2010 ADA Standards says that the baseline of the tactile characters shall be 48” minimum to 60” maximum above to finished floor. Where an ADA sign is provided for a door, it must be installed on the latch side of the door. If you ever have a situation where you’re uncertain the correct location to mount an ADA sign, you should ask the local building inspector.
“703.4.1 Height Above Finish Floor or Ground. 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.
Here is a link to more information and the history of Braille.
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