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The term “ADA Signs” has come into common use in the architectural, construction and signage industries with the advent of the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA. The term is sometimes misunderstood, as some people think it is synonymous with braille signs. Signs with braille and raised characters are the most visible manifestation of the law requiring access to the built environment, but the sign standards in the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, or ADAAG, require much more than just braille and raised characters on some signs.
In general, almost every sign that would be considered an “architectural” sign must comply with one or another of the ADA Guidelines. In other words, if a sign identifies a permanent room or space of a facility, including exits, directs or informs about functional spaces of the facility, or identifies, directs to, or informs about accessible features of the facility, it must comply. Signs for advertising and marketing purposes, temporary signs, company logos and names are examples of signs or sections of signs that do not have to comply.
Although, because of the rules requiring Braille on some signs, the signage section is looked upon as benefiting persons who are blind and visually impaired, some of the sign guidelines benefit persons with mobility impairments or hearing impairments. In addition, one can say generally that easy to read and well thought out signage systems are of definite benefit to deaf people, people who have problems speaking, and people with cognitive disabilities or psychiatric conditions that cause them to avoid speaking to strangers.