Did you know one out of four American adults is living with a disability? That’s 61 million people, just in the United States. If you own a building, chances are you’ve already had tenants, clientele, or guests with disabilities.

One way to make your building welcoming to all is with accessible features. In this context, an accessible feature enables a disabled person to use the same resources, and enjoy the same goods and services, as anyone else in your building. Common accessibility options include wheelchair-safe ramps, caption devices, and ADA signage.

The Americans With Disabilities Act—which some people call “the ADA,” for short—is a civil rights law. Congress passed it in 1990. The ADA enshrined equal rights for Americans with disabilities in school, in the workplace, and in public.

Over the next three decades, courts determined how specific ADA protections apply in different contexts. Today, you can read clear, comprehensive documents to learn what the ADA requires of you, as a building owner.

Read on to learn what contemporary ADA signage requirements are. Then, discover how to create ADA-compliant signage that suits your building—and your budget.

What Are ADA Signage Requirements for 2022?

What Are ADA Signage Requirements for 2022

The ADA last updated its accessibility requirements in 2010. You can read the full text of the law’s standards for accessible design—including signage—on this page. Fortunately, as a building owner, there are just a few key rules to keep in mind.

Where Does the ADA Require Accessible Signage?

All public buildings must have ADA compliant signage at every doorway. This includes businesses, restaurants, schools, and housing.

Signs must identify the room through the doorway. Signs might identify:

  • Medical facilities
  • Assembly areas
  • Social service centers
  • Recreational areas
  • Classrooms
  • Libraries
  • Restrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Foyers

Buildings must also include ADA-compliant signage at exits.

Non-Doorway Signage

Handicap parking signs must comply with ADA standards. The ADA also requires compliant signage where signs indicate directions to services, wheelchair-accessible routes, and service instructions. Compliant signs at entrances inaccessible to wheelchair users must convey directions of an accessible entrance.

All emergency exit and emergency instruction signs (i.e. “in case of fire, use stairwell”) must comply.

ADA Signage Size Regulations

ADA-compliant signs meet size and mounting height regulations. The law also regulates sign placement.

Size (Dimensions)

The ADA has no set size for identification signs. But, ADA building signage must meet font size regulations. Characters must be 5/8″ to 2″ tall.

ADA Sign Height (Mounting)

ADA Sign Height (Mounting)

Signs must be mounted so the baseline of tactile characters is 4′-6′ up from the ground. Signs that give directions are typically mounted 4.5′ high off the ground.

Mounting Locations

Mount signs on the handle side of a door. Signs must be mounted so the center of the copy is 9″ away from the side of the door.

ADA Standards of Acceptable Design

The ADA standards of acceptable design are detailed. But, the key rules to remember are:

  1. Text and numbers must be printed in raised 1/32″, uppercase, sans-serif font.
  2. The same information must be adapted and printed in Grade 2 braille, underneath the text.
  3. Pictograms must be subtitled with verbal descriptions. The ADA standards guide indicates acceptable pictograms to convey information.
  4. Signs must have a non-glare finish. The finish can be matte or eggshell. Characters and images must contrast clearly with the background.

When you adhere to the ADA standards of accessible design, you improve building acessibility. Thank you for taking the time to read this summary of the ADA’s signage guide.

the ADA's signage guide

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