What does ADA Compliant mean?

In 1992, the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) was initiated. Since then, the Department of Justice has updated the ADA regulations (Title III), in effect as of March 15, 2011. The ADAAG requires all public places (except government buildings and churches) to install Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant signage that includes tactile lettering, Grade II Braille, and in some cases, pictograms.

The ADA law language is very clear, as it places the responsibility for the conformance to the law on the owner of the signage project. Manufacturers, designers and those who act as agents of the project owner must be knowledgeable in the aspects of the accessibility guidelines presented in producing compliant signage.

The Standards for Accessible Design (SAD) define two categories of signs:

  1. Signs that identify a permanent room or space (§216.2)
  2. Signs giving directions to or information about permanent rooms or spaces (§216.3)

Signs that identify a permanent room or space (“identification” signs) are required to use raised characters; Braille signs must be properly mounted in a consistent location: on the wall, next to the door, on the latch or on the strike plate of the door. Informational and directional signs are not required to be mounted in a consistent location and only require visual characters.