How to Approach ADA Signage as a Business Owner
When it comes to being ADA compliant, it helps to think about it from the perspective of satisfying the customer or client. Over 50 million people in the United States have a disability, with an aging population that will make understanding the needs of the disabled even more important. When a customer or client with a disability sees how hard you work to ensure that his or her needs are met, you have made a loyal customer for life. By committing your business to having a positive approach to ADA compliance, you open the door to more customers and increased business activity.
The ADA signs you and other business owners put up in your workplace or office building benefit millions of people who are legally blind and help keep our aging population active, mobile, and independent. Many business owners understand the importance of having braille and tactile signs for clients and customers who are blind. What business owners may not know is how important tactile and high contrast signs are for those with partial eye sight. This is why it can be confusing when trying to determine what types of signs to put up and where they need to go.
The first question many business owners have is if the law applies to them. If you are a business that provides goods or services to the public, then you fall under the law. The line in the law states that, “stores, restaurants, bars, service establishments, theaters, hotels, recreational facilities, private museums and schools, doctors' and dentists' offices, shopping malls, and other businesses…are included in the 12 categories, regardless of the size of the business or the age of their buildings” (Department of Justice, 2011). This means that if you deal with the public in some way, you will need to understand what you need to do to ensure people with disabilities have access to and are safe within your building. Even commercial buildings, like offices, factories, and warehouses, will need to address disability access and safety with new construction or alterations to buildings, and all facilities with 10 or more employees must follow the ADA signage guidelines.
Not every sign that identifies or is part of your business or office has to be ADA compliant. Building addresses, parking signs, directories, and signs that will be up 7 days or less (temporary signs) do not have to be ADA compliant. Stairwells, permanent rooms and spaces, or other places that have a permanent use need to be identified with signs that have braille and tactile letters as well as high contrast lettering. For instance, each doorway inside a stairwell needs to be identified with a tactile sign that details what the floor level is, stair level (which may be different from the floor level), and the exit level. Permanent rooms and spaces like meeting rooms, offices, vending machine areas, or kitchens should be labelled with room numbers and names in braille, tactile letters, and high contrast lettering. There are also specific placements for each sign in height and location (Department of Justice, 2010).
It can be confusing knowing exactly what to do! Your ADA compliant sign manufacturer is a great resource to help you find exactly what you need and explain where it should go. When you create a business that is friendly to those with disabilities, you create an opportunity for greater business success!
Department of Justice. (2011). “ADA Update: A primer for small business.” Retrieved from: http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm
Department of Justice. (2010). “2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.” Retrieved from: http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAstandards.htm