Summary – “New ADA”

Posted on May 22, 2012

On March 15, 2012 new federal ADA guidelines took effect. The new law impacts how signage is manufactured and installed. The principle areas of change are as follows:

  • Stroke Width – The new law requires fonts where the stroke width on the typefaces uppercase “I” not exceed 15% of the letter’s height.
  • Spacing – The new rules dictate 1/8” spacing between letters regardless of character height.
  • Contrast – 70% contrast is no longer the rule, although, we will continue to design with contrast.
  • Mounting Height – Signs identifying rooms must be mounted so that the bottom of the raised characters is between 48” and 60” above the floor (previously 60” to sign center). Flags and overheads are unaffected — still 80” minimum from floor to bottom of sign.


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

ADA law mandates sign position, finish and contrast, typestyles, character height, and Braille requirements. All facilities, both public and private, with ten or more employees are affected.


Finish and Contrast

Characters and background shall have a non–glare finish. There must also be adequate contrast with their background with either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background.


Typestyles and Character Height

Characters must utilize a sans serif typestyle. For permanent room signs, tactile characters must be upper case and a minimum of 5/8” and no more than 2” in height. Overhead and flag mounts have a character size of 2”. Upper and lower case are permissible. For directional signage, character height must be appropriate for the viewing distance. Again, upper and lower case characters may be utilized.


Tactile Characters and Braille

For permanent room signs, characters must be raised a minimum of 1/32” and accompanied with grade II Braille. Braille shall be domed in shape… flat, square cornered Braille shall be avoided. Raised copy and Braille are not required on overhead or directional signage.



Pictograms must have a background field of at least 6”. If text is utilized, it must be placed directly below the symbol and not within the field.


Sign Position

Room Identification – where a tactile sign is located at a room with a single door, the sign shall be on the latch side. Where a tactile sign is provided at double doors with one active leaf, the sign shall be on the inactive leaf. Where a tactile sign is provided at double doors with two active leafs, the sign shall be to the right of the right hand door.

Note: if a lack of wall space precludes any of the prescribed locations, the sign may be located at the nearest adjacent wall.


Mounting Height:


Tactile Signs – signs shall be located at 60” from floor to top of sign.

Overhead Signage – signs shall have an 80”clearance from floor to bottom of sign.

Flag Mounted Signage – signs shall have an 80” clearance from floor to bottom of sign if the projection from the wall is 4” or greater.