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ADA Requirements for Business Signs

  • Published: 2009-05-25 (Revised/Updated 2013-06-12) : Author: Christine Harrell
  • Synopsis: ADA rules regulate subjects from the width of doorways to the design of business signs.

Businesses operate under a host of federal, state and local laws that govern every aspect of operations.

Owners may be aware that they have responsibilities under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) but may be unsure what those are. ADA rules regulate subjects from the width of doorways to the design of business signs.

The ADA And Your Business

In 1992 the passage of the American with Disabilities act provided US businesses with a set of guidelines to offer service to all customers regardless of physical limitations. This allowed people with disabilities access to many venues that they were unable to use before.

The ADA has been a positive move for businesses as well as their customers. Before its enactment, companies that wanted to provide full accessibility had no idea where to start. The ADA provides a set of standards so business owners can understand that access for customers with disabilities goes beyond wheelchair ramps and toilet stalls.

One section of the act covers visual displays. Signage is the term for the design of symbols and signs, including font size, placement and color contrast. Creating displays that correspond to the rules of ADA signage allows a business to better serve its customers and to avoid legal and civil penalties.

ADA Signage Requirements

ADA rules on business signs are designed to make these displays usable by anyone. Signs designed under these rules help customers with visual impairments and even customers with normal vision appreciate the clear, simple design.

ADA signage rules lay out clear definitions of appropriate design. For example, certain fonts are difficult to read. However it can be hard to tell which ones are best for large format printing. ADA rules stipulate an acceptable height to width ratio and a stroke width that makes it easier to choose an appropriate font. Font size is based on how far away a sign is meant to be read. Letters must contrast sharply with the background and only certain colors are allowed.

Making signs readable by blind customers means more than just adding Braille. There are guidelines on the size and location of Braille translations so that vision impaired people can find and read them easily. Specific information on ADA signage can be found at the ADA website.

Hire A Professional Sign Company

ADA signage rules can be confusing to someone who has never worked in graphic design before, and even to those who have. The rules may seem restrictive but have been compiled based on studies of what fonts and characters are easiest for any of us to read.

Rather than puzzling out this information yourself, hire a graphic design company with ADA experience. Hiring a professional to design custom displays for your business ensures you get high quality displays that meet or exceed ADA standards. Your displays look more professional and you provide the best level of service to your customers.

For more information on ADA Signage, visit

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