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You have a responsibility to make your campus ADA-compliant. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) has strict requirements for keeping your entrances and exits, common use areas, classrooms, restrooms, and other areas of your property accessible to all. ADA-compliant signage plays an important role in helping students and visitors with disabilities to navigate across your campus and throughout your buildings. The design, fabrication, and placement of your signs sends a message of caring and concern for the safety and comfort of visually impaired individuals on your campus and demonstrates a commitment to creating a more inclusive community for all. 

ADA signage should be welcoming and at every turn reveal the importance you place on guiding everyone comfortably and clearly on school grounds and in buildings. These signs can be innovative while also being compliant, will simplify navigation improve access, and create a positive impression of your school throughout your campus.

Types of ADA-Compliant Signage

ADA requirements apply to both exterior and interior signage, although exterior signs that are not located at door spaces do not have to be tactile, but must meet the visual stipulations of the act. Tactile signs must have raised characters that are repeated in Grade 2 braille, which uses the same characters as standard braille but include characters for common words and letter combinations. The technical standards for braille characters address depth, height and proportions, character spacing, and other elements of tactile signage. Tactile signage must include non-glare finish and high color contrast to meet the requirements under the ADA.

Sign placement is also regulated under the ADA, and is uniform for all tactile signs to make them easy to find, reach, and read. They must be located at a height of between 48 inches to 60 inches beside or on doors and placed beyond the arc of any door swing.

The most common uses for ADA signage across your campus must include:

  • Designations of Permanent Rooms and Spaces – ADA-compliant signs are required to identify any space deemed permanent under the ADA, which is an area that will serve the same function for more than 7 days. The signage must provide names and other information that will help identify the space. Common permanent rooms and spaces on your campus include cafeterias, libraries, classrooms, restrooms, offices, and conference rooms.
  • Directional ADA Signage – Signs that guide the flow of people on college campuses and prevent people from getting lost, confused, and frustrated when trying to find their way around must meet ADA visual requirements, but are not required to be tactile. If your buildings have inaccessible entrances, directional signage must incorporate international standards of accessibility (ISA) to assist individuals with finding accessible entrances and exits.
  • Informational ADA Signage – As is the case with your directional ADA signs, signage that includes instructions, rules of conduct, hours of operation, and other useful content must adhere to visual ADA requirements but do not have to be tactile. This applies even to signs that provide information located near permanent spaces. In such cases, ADA-required braille information must be used to identify the space, but all other content need only be visually approved content.
  • Means of Egress ADA Signage – Signs that identify entrances and exits at stairway doors, along public exit passages, and at building exits must be both tactile and meet visual requirements. In the case when both visual signage and tactile signage are used, as is the case with the familiar, brightly lit ‘Exit’ signs positioned above doors, the corresponding tactile information is posted on a separate sign that must meet ADA requirements.

Most Common Campus ADA Signs

  • Building Nameplate
  • Room Number ID    
  • Classroom Name Plate
  • Elevator and Stair ID
  • Room ID
  • Directory Signage
  • Bathroom Signage
  • California Restroom Signage
  • Accessibility Signage

Use this checklist to help meet ADA sign requirements on your campus and ensure that students, faculty, and staff can navigate campus grounds with confidence.

  • All interior wayfinding signage should include Grade 2 braille and be located near the door handle or latch
  • If the space will be in use for a period of more than seven days, ADA signage is required
  • All interior wayfinding signage should consist of contrasting colors and images and text should be in large, easily read fonts
  • ADA signage must be located directly next to what it is meant to describe
  • Use symbols that match international standards of accessibility (ISA) to avoid language confusion
  • Use illumination so that signage stands out any time of day and in any weather
  • Install tactile signs (both exterior and interior) to identify permanent rooms and spaces, entrances and exits for stairways and passageways, and elevator controls and emergency communication
  • Digital screens must be non-glare and display a 70% contrast between background and screen messaging
  • Mounted digital screens cannot extend more than four inches from a wall and must be mounted between 27-80 inches
  • Numeric keypads must be in sequence and have a raised dot on the #5 key

When your ADA campus signage strategy is done right, everyone who arrives at your school gets the information they need to find their way around and feel comfortable everywhere they go. Contact a Marketing.com higher education ADA signage expert today to learn more about how we can help your school connect the dots and create a welcoming campus for all.