Staying Within Regulations

Ensuring that your architectural signs are ADA compliant is not only good for those with physical, auditory or visual impairments, but for yourself and your business as well. There are several guidelines to follow for different kinds of signs, so you want to make sure you are working with a professional sign company that is up-to-date on any of the latest stipulations. Here we will take a look at the guidelines for both permanent and directional/informational signs.

Compliant signs are required for any rooms or spaces that are considered permanent, such as bathrooms and stairwells. These signs must:

Include raised and Braille characters, and pictorial symbols

ADA requires that both letters and numerals are raised 1/32” (0.8mm) in upper case, sans serif or simple serif type, and accompanied with Grade 2 Braille. Characters are to be raised at least 5/8” (16mm) high, but no higher than 2” (50mm). Also, pictograms must have a verbal description placed directly underneath them.

Have an appropriate finish and contrast

The characters and the background on these signs are to be eggshell (recommended), matte or another non-glare finish. Characters and symbols must contrast with the background, either using light on dark or dark on light.

Be mounted properly

The placement of these signs is also important, as ADA requires the sign to be installed on the wall adjacent to the latch side of the door. In cases where there is no immediate wall there, it should be installed on the closest one possible to that side. Signs are to be mounted at a height of 60” (1525mm), measured from the floor to the centerline of the sign. Also, the mounting location must allow for a person to approach within 3” (76mm) without encountering any protruding objects or the swing of the door.


Signs are also required for directional and/or informational purposes regarding the functional spaces in a building. These signs must:

Have the correct character proportion

ADA requires that both the letters and numbers on signs must have a width-to-height ratio between 3:5 & 1:1, and a stroke-width-to-height ratio between 1:5 & 1:10. Figuring out where your sign should fall depends on the sign’s intended viewing distance, so as to give it the best readability.

Have the correct character height

Just like proportion, the height is also based upon the intended viewing distance. As a guide, the minimum height is measured using an upper case “X”.

Have an appropriate finish and contrast

Just the same as with permanent signs (see above), the finish and contrast must fit within the given specifications so they are clear and easily readable.


As you can see, there are several factors to take into account when starting out or replacing old signage. Rather than spend your time looking up regulations and measuring letter height, let your friends at Signsational Graphics do the work for you! We are well versed in ADA compliance and would love to let you get back to what matters to you, running your business!