EXTERIOR ADA SIGNAGE OVERVIEW
EXTERIOR ADA SIGNAGE REQUIREMENTS
Signs use words and symbols to communicate messages. “ADA sign” refers to signage marking U.S. public building rooms, spaces or features that are regulated by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The U.S. Department of Justice published the ADA in order to prohibit discrimination against those with disabilities. Federally regulated signage provides the 7.5 million Americans that are legally blind or visually impaired equal access to public spaces across the U.S.
ADA sign requirements enforced today were released as part of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (SAD). Detailed federal signage requirements direct the location and content of identification, directional and informational signs. Some, but not all, door signs are regulated by the ADA.
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U.S public buildings are required to post exterior ADA signage in two instances. First, if not all building entrances are handicap accessible, signage must direct toward the nearest accessible entrance. Additionally, if not all entrances are accessible, handicapped accessible entrance(s) must be marked with ADA signs that include the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA or person in a wheelchair pictogram).
Signage that directs towards an accessible building entrance does not need to contain braille or raised characters. It is best practice to place wayfinding signs at every turn along the route to the accessible alternative. When no turns are required, directional signs should be posted every 35 to 50 feet.
Second, exterior tactile signage is required if an outdoor space is part of a building structure, such as a courtyard or shared rooftop patio. ADA signage with braille and raised characters identifying outdoor building spaces must be placed at doorways leading back inside the building. However, exterior ADA sign is not necessary at building doors leading to parking lots or sidewalks.
WHEN DO I NEED TO HAVE AN EXTERIOR ADA SIGN?
If your facility has an outside door to a permanent room or space, such as restrooms at a park, a tactile ADA sign is required. Additionally, if not all entrances for your facility are accessible, a sign meeting ADA visual character requirements must direct towards the nearest accessible entrance, and that entrance must be marked with the ISA. Best practice is to also mark the entrance with a sign that contains tactile characters and braille.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON EXTERIOR ADA SIGNS?
The most common exterior ADA signs are restroom and accessible entrance signs. Many buildings feature rooftop areas, enclosed or semi-enclosed foyers and similar spaces. The doors leading inside from these spaces also require tactile ADA signs.