Product Bulletin - ADA Braille Signs

Stock / Standard Braille Signs

All contents are for reference only. Please consult with federal, state, local, and/or any other code regulating bodies for the most current up to date information.


ADA Braille Standard Braille Signs Product Bulletin





INTRODUCTION

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established in the early 1900s to protect the civil rights of disabled persons. The regulations obligate public entities to provide effective communication and reasonable accommodations to both employees and patrons, including those with impaired vision or hearing.

Pertaining to signage, the law mandates identification standards regarding character size, color contrast, location, and tactile copy for readability to ensure access to goods and services. Learn more at www.ADA.gov.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) enforces ADA guidelines in places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and in state or local government facilities. But the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) code is implemented in federal government facilities—including military facilities - and is enforced by the Department of Defense (DOD). ADA and ABA all have the same requirements for signage.

On September 15, 2010, the DOJ amended the ADA to clarify and refine issues that have arisen since its initial implementation more than 20 years ago, and these revisions are called the "2010 Standards". The 2010 Standards became effective March 15, 2012, for all new construction and alterations.

Compliance is administered by state and local governments, and some states/municipalities are permitted to adopt even more stringent regulations as approved by the DOJ, such as Title 24 for California restroom signs (refer to ADA Braille California (Title 24) Braille Signs Product Bulletin for more information.

The 2010 Standards include a new and detailed definition for tactile characters, new location and mounting heights for signs, and minimum character heights determined by viewing distances.

I. GENERAL

Where both visual and raised (a.k.a. tactile) characters are required, either (a) one sign with both visual and tactile characters, or (b) two separate signs - one with visual and one with tactile characters - shall be provided.

II. TACTILE CHARACTERS

Refer to Section V for more information regarding finish and color contrast of tactile characters.

  1. Character Height

    The new codes allow for tactile letter heights to better fit their environment. Minimum height for tactile characters is 5/8", measured vertically from the baseline, with a 2" maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter "I".



    ADA Braille Standard Braille Tactile Character Height

    Figure 1: Tactile Character Height

    Characters designed to be read by touch cannot have sharp or abrasive edges. They must be a minimum of 1/32" above their background, meaning 1/32" thick/deep.

    EXCEPTION: Where separate tactile and visual characters with the same information are provided, tactile character height shall be permitted to be 1/2" minimum.

  2. Font/Case

    Font styles must comply with strict rules in order to follow ADA regarding proportion, height, and stroke thickness. Please refer to provided list of compliant fonts. Other fonts may be compliant, and our designers can determine that upon request.

    Please note that Helvetica Medium, once-thought compliant and considered the industry standard ADA copy style, is no longer compliant due to the thickness of the stroke. Helvetica Regular is recommended for visual consistency.

    Characters may not be expanded, extended, italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual form. They must also be uppercase and sans serif.

  3. Character Proportions

    Tactile characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter "O" is 55% minimum and 110% maximum of the height of the uppercase letter "I". Stroke thickness of the uppercase letter "I" shall be 10% minimum and 15% maximum of the height of the character.



    ADA Braille Standard Braille Tactile Character Proportions

    Figure 2: Tactile Character Proportions

  4. Character Spacing

    Tactile character spacing shall be measured between the two closest adjacent tactile characters within a message, excluding word spaces. Where characters have rectangular cross sections, spacing between individual tactile characters shall be 1/8" minimum and 4 times the tactile character stroke width maximum.



    ADA Braille Standard Braille Minimum Spacing Between Tactile Characters

    Figure 3: Minimum Spacing Between Tactile Characters

    Where characters have other cross sections, spacing between individual tactile characters shall be 1/16" minimum and 4 times the tactile character stroke width maximum at the base of the cross sections, and 1/8" minimum and 4 times the tactile character stroke width maximum at the top of the cross sections.

    Characters shall be separated from tactile borders and decorative elements 3/8" minimum.

  5. Line Spacing

    Spacing between the baselines of separate lines of tactile characters within a message shall be 135% minimum and 170% maximum of the tactile character height.



    ADA Braille Standard Braille Line Spacing for Multiple Lines of Tactile Copy

    Figure 4: Line Spacing for Multiple Lines of Tactile Copy

III. BRAILLE

There are two types of Braille: Grade 1 and Grade 2. Grade 1 includes full spelling, while Grade 2 consists of Grade 1 Braille and 189 contractions. Grade 2 with contractions is ADA compliant. There are stringent rules for Braille dimensions, etc., as shown below:

ADA Braille Standard Braille Dimensions & Spacing

Figure 5: Braille Dimensions & Spacing

New guidelines require Braille dots to be rounded or domed, and they must be placed 3/8" directly below corresponding tactile text and be the same color as the background. If text is multi-lined, Braille shall be placed below the entire text.

Braille shall be separated 3/8” minimum from any other tactile characters and 3/8" minimum from tactile borders and decorative elements.

ADA Braille Standard Placement of Braille

Figure 6: Placement of Braille

The indication of an uppercase letter or letters shall only be used before the first word of sentences, proper nouns and names, individual letters of the alphabet, initials, and acronyms.

ADA Braille Standard Braille Alphabet

Figure 7: Braille Alphabet

EXCEPTION: Braille provided on elevator car controls shall be separated 3/16" minimum and shall be located either directly below or adjacent to the corresponding tactile characters or symbols.

IV. VISUAL CHARACTERS

Refer to Section V for more information regarding finish and color contrast.

  1. Character Height

    The new codes allow for tactile letter heights to better fit their environment. Minimum height for tactile characters is 5/8", measured vertically from the baseline, with a 2" maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter "I".



    ADA Braille Standard Braille Tactile Character Height

    Figure 8: Visual Letter Height Based on Mounting Height & Viewing Distance

    Characters designed to be read by touch cannot have sharp or abrasive edges. They must be a minimum of 1/32" above their background, meaning 1/32" thick/deep.

    EXCEPTION: Where separate tactile and visual characters with the same information are provided, tactile character height shall be permitted to be 1/2" minimum.

  2. Font/Case

    When tactile characters and Braille copy are not mandated but signs provide direction or life safety, guidelines for visual characters are required, which include: uppercase or lowercase or a combination of both, copy style to be conventional in form, and characters cannot be expanded, extended, italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.

  3. Character Proportions

    Visual character stroke thickness of the uppercase letter "I" shall be 10% minimum and 30% maximum of the height of the character. Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter "O" is 55% minimum and 110% maximum of the height of the uppercase letter "I".

  4. Character Spacing

    For visual characters, character spacing shall be measured between the two closest points of adjacent characters, excluding word spaces. Spacing between individual characters shall be 10% minimum and 35% maximum of character height. Spacing between the baselines of separate lines of characters within a message shall be 135% minimum and 170% maximum of the character height.

V. FINISH & COLOR CONTRAST

The 2010 Standards only require characters to contrast with their background, either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background and have a non-glare finish. The previous recommendation of 70% color contrast is no longer mandated; however, it is considered good accessible design.

Based on the new regulations, white copy on a tan background is compliant, but a lawsuit can still be made - even if not explicitly stated in the code. Therefore, since white copy on a tan background has a contrast of only 63%, it is not recommended.

ADVISORY FROM THE ADA: Signs are more legible for persons with low vision when characters contrast as much as possible with their background. Additional factors affecting the ease with which the text can be distinguished from its background include shadows cast by lighting sources, surface glare, and the uniformity of the text and its background colors and textures.

Please refer to Section III for more information regarding color/contrast for Braille.

VI. PICTOGRAMS & SYMBOL SIGNAGE

Pictograms need a vertical field of 6". Tactile characters and Braille cannot be located in this field.



ADA Braille Standard Vertical Void for Pictograms

Figure 9: Vertical Void for Pictograms

Tactile text descriptors are required for pictograms that are provided to label or identify a permanent room or space. Pictograms that provide information about a room or space - such as "no smoking", occupant logos, and the international symbol of accessibility (ISA) - are not required to have text descriptors.

Please refer to Section V for information regarding finish and contrast of pictograms.

VII. SYMBOLS OF ACCESSIBILITY

Public entities must make information regarding the existence and location of accessible services, activities, and facilities obtainable.

Please refer to Section V for information regarding finish and contrast of symbols of accessibility.

These are internationally accepted symbols for accessibility:

ADA Braille Standard International Symbols of Accessibility

Figure 10: International Symbols of Accessibility

VIII. SPECIFIC TYPES OF SIGNAGE

  1. Directional & Informational Signage

    Signs that provide direction to or information about interior spaces and facilities of a site shall comply with rules regarding visual characters. Such signage includes rules of conduct, occupant load, and similar signs.

  2. Accessibility

    When signs providing direction to accessible means are required by the International Building Code - either the 2000 edition or 2003 edition - such signage shall comply with ADA regulations and include the ISA.

  3. Entrances

    Where all entrances need not be ADA compliant, they shall be identified with directional signs that indicate the location of the nearest ADA entrance. These signs should also be located to minimize backtracking. In some cases, this could mean locating a sign at the beginning of a route, not just at the inaccessible entrances to a building.

  4. Egresses

    Signs providing direction to rooms or spaces include those that identify egress routes. Doors at exit passageways, exit discharge, and exit stairways shall be identified by compliant tactile signs. An exit passageway is a horizontal exit component that is separated from interior spaces of the building by fire-resistance-rated construction that that lead to the exit discharge or public way. The exit discharge is that portion of an egress system between the termination of an exit and a public way.

  5. Stairwells

    ADA stairwell signage is necessary; a tactile/Braille sign is required on the floor side leading into the stairwell that says "EXIT" (a stair number and graphic can be added, but they do not need to be tactile). A tactile/Braille sign is also required on the inside of the stairwell next to the door that says the floor number (it can read "FLOOR 6" or just "6"). At the point of exit discharge from the building, an "EXIT" sign including tactile/Braille must be mounted next to that door.

    Also, many local fire codes require a visual-compliant sign measuring a minimum of 18"H x 12"W for each floor in all stairwells identifying floor level, stair level, roof access, and level of exit. Depending on building type and state code, these signs may be required to be photoluminescent. Since local ordinances override federal, please verify with local municipality.

  6. Elevators & Floor Designations

    Where existing elevators do not comply with ADA regulations, compliant elevators shall be clearly identified with the ISA.

    EXCEPTION: Tactile characters for elevator car controls shall not be required to comply with ADA regulations.

    ADA floor designations and hoistways shall be provided on both jams of elevator hoistway entrances. Floor designations shall be provided in both tactile characters and Braille. Tactile characters shall be minimum 2" high. A tactile star shall be provided on both jambs at the main entry level.

    Destination-oriented elevators shall provide tactile car identification on both jambs of the hoistway immediately below the floor designation. Car designations shall be provided in both tactile characters and Braille. Tactile characters shall be minimum 2" high.

  7. Parking

    Accessible parking spaces must be marked with ADA signage. If van-accessible, they must be marked as such, but they are not reserved exclusively for van users.

    EXCEPTIONS: Where a total of four or fewer parking spaces - including accessible parking spaces - are provided on a site, identification of accessible parking spaces shall not be required. In residential facilities where parking spaces are assigned to specific residential dwelling units, identification of accessible parking spaces shall not be required.

    Parking spaces for vans and access aisles and vehicular routes serving them shall provide a vertical clearance of 98" minimum. Signs provided at entrances to parking facilities informing drivers of clearances and the location of van accessible parking spaces can provide useful customer assistance.

    Parking space identification signs shall include the ISA. Signs identifying van parking spaces shall contain the designation "van accessible". Signs shall be 60" minimum above the finished floor (AFF). The required "van accessible" designation is intended to be informative, not restrictive, in identifying those spaces that are better suited for van use. Enforcement of motor vehicle laws, including parking privileges, is a local matter.

  8. Life Safety Signage

    Safety regulations in buildings are constantly changing. The International Building Code (IBC) is governed by the International Code Council and ADA. Please check with your local authorities for requirements regarding life safety signage.

  9. TTY & Active Listening Systems

    Directional signs indicating the location of the nearest public teletypewriter (TTY) shall be provided at all banks of public pay telephones not containing a public TTY. In addition, where signs provide direction to public pay telephones, they shall also provide direction to public TTYs. These signs shall comply with ADA regulations and shall include the ISA.

    Each assembly area required to provide assistive listening systems shall provide signs informing patrons of the availability of such system. Assistive listening signs shall comply with ADA regulations and include the international symbol of Access for Hearing Loss.

    EXCEPTION: Where ticket offices or windows are provided, signs shall not be required at each assembly area provided that signs are displayed at each ticket office or window informing patrons of the availability of assistive listening systems.

  10. Check-Out Aisles

    Where more than one check-out aisle is provided, they shall be identified by the ISA. Where check-out aisles are identified by numbers, letters, or functions, signs shall be located in the same locations as the check-out aisle identification.

    EXCEPTION: Where all check-out aisles serve a single function, signage need not comply with the statement above.

  11. Amusement Rides

    Signs identifying the type of access provided on amusement rides shall be provided at entries to queues and waiting lines. In addition, where accessible unload areas also serve as accessible load areas, signs indicating the location of the accessible load and unload areas shall be provided at entries to queues and waiting lines.

    Amusement rides designed primarily for children that are controlled or operated by the rider, and without seats, are not required to provide wheelchair spaces, transfer seats, or transfer systems, and need not meet the signage requirement above. The load and unload areas of these rides must, however, be on an accessible route and must provide turning space.

  12. Aisle Seating

    For designated aisle seats where armrests are provided in the immediate area, folding or retractable armrests shall be provided on the aisle side of the seat. Each designated aisle seat shall be identified by a sign or marker containing the ISA.

    Seats with folding or retractable armrests are intended for use by individuals who have difficulty walking. Consider identifying such seats with signs that contrast and that are also photoluminiscent.

  13. Toilet & Bathing Rooms

    Where existing toilet or bathing rooms do not comply with ADA guidelines, directional signs indicating the location of the nearest toilet or bathing room that is compliant within the facility shall be provided. Compliant spaces shall include the ISA.

  14. Areas of Refuge

    When signs providing instructions in areas of refuge are required by the International Building Code - either the 2000 edition or 2003 edition - such signage shall comply with ADA regulations.

IX. MOUNTING

Previously, tactile ADA signs were mounted at 60" to the center of the sign. But the 2010 Standards provide for a range of 48-60" from the baseline of the lowest tactile character or the highest tactile character, allowing for visual consistency of sign heights. Visual characters shall be 40" minimum above AFF.



ADA Braille Standard Mounting Height for Tactile Signs

Figure 11: Mounting Height for Tactile Signs

Mounting is also relative to door type and swing path. The new ADA provides greater guidance for the placement of signs, allowing tactile signs to be placed on the push side of doors with a closing mechanism; this change clarifies the issue of signs on restroom doors.

  • Single Doors: Sign shall be next to the door on latch side.
  • Double Doors (one active leaf): Sign shall be located on inactive leaf.
  • Double Doors (two active leaves): Sign shall be to the right of right-hand door.
  • Push Doors: Sign shall be on the push side of doors with closers and without hold-open devices.
  • Doors without Wall Space on Latch Side of Single Door or at Right Side of Double Doors: Signs shall be mounted on nearest adjacent wall; mounting location for such signage shall be so that a person may approach within 3" of signage without encountering protruding objects or standing within the swing of a door.

EXCEPTION: Signs with tactile characters shall be permitted on push side of doors with closers and without hold-open devices.

The bottom of overhead signage must clear 80" minimum AFF. Wall-mounted signs must be mounted a minimum of 27" AFF and a maximum of 80", with a maximum protrusion into the pathway of 4".

Signs containing tactile characters shall be located so that a clear floor space of 18" minimum by 18" minimum, centered on the tactile characters, is provided beyond the arc of any door swing between the closed position and 45-degree open position.

ADA Braille Standard Center Tactile Within 18x18 Clear Floor Space

Figure 12: Center Tactile Within 18" x 18" Clear Floor Space

EXCEPTION: Tactile and visual characters for elevator car controls shall not be required to comply with mounting heights laid out above.


For additional questions or specification needs, please contact us at (701) 526-3835 or service@wholesaleofficesigns.com.

Wholesale Office Signs is a Division of Office Sign Company

Copyright © 2018 Wholesale Office Signs