What is Unified English Braille?

Posted by Rochelle Harris on Mar 25th 2021

What is Unified English Braille?

The Language Of ADA Signs

If you or someone you love has a disability, then the things that the Americans with Disabilities Act covers matter to you. If you're a business owner, this is also something you need to know. And in general, as a human being, we care about our fellow citizens. This vitally important legislature was made into law originally in 1990, and protects those with disabilities from discrimination of any kind. It forces all businesses with 15 or more full-time employees to make their businesses accessible to handicapped persons by making reasonable accommodations, as well as making any positions that may be open available to anyone with disabilities. Part of these reasonable accommodations is posting ADA signs for handicapped persons to be able to navigate the building. The ADA signs themselves have very strict requirements and guidelines, and a standard way to construct them. These guidelines are very specific, and have definite basic rules which must be followed exactly, in order to be considered ADA compliant.

When to use Unified English Braille?

Unified English Braille code or UEB, is the language of ADA signs, and the general form of written language used by those who are sightless, and read with their fingertips. To most of us, this is an unreadable series of bumps and lines that might as well be gibberish! But to a person who is blind, this is how they read any written information. It is a code developed to represent the wide variety of literary and technical material in use in the English-speaking world today, in uniform fashion. Unified English Braille is intended to develop one set of rules that are the same everywhere in the world, which could be applied across various types of English-language material. It is designed to be readily understood by people familiar with literary braille (used in standard prose writing), while also including specialized math and science symbols, computer-related symbols, foreign alphabets, and visual effects like bullet points, bold type and so on. So basically, a unified system for all blind, English-speaking people everywhere. Therefore, for ADA signage, this is what is used for the braille portion. There are only 63 distinct characters in standard 6-dot braille, causing different rule sets to be developed over the years for different varieties of written material. As a result of the expanding need to represent technical symbolism, and divergence during the past 100 years across countries, braille users who desired to read or write a large range of material have needed to learn different sets of rules, depending on what kind of material they were reading. Rules were not often compatible and were sometimes conflicting. This is why a unified system was and is necessary. There remains an issue, however, with technological advances. The number of blind people who are well-versed in braille is staggeringly small, due to the advances in technology such as screen-readers. Sadly, braille is not as necessary as it once was. However it still remains critical, in places of business especially, so that blind people can navigate to where they need to go. It becomes even more important when there is an emergency, and everyone must find their way to an emergency exit to escape the situation. Making sure your business is ADA compliant for these types of circumstances is extremely important, as you could face fines and be open to lawsuits otherwise.

Other Sign Requirements

As previously stated, ADA signs have very specific requirements in addition to the use of Unified English Braille. For instance, you must use a sans serif font. Where required, signs must have both visual and tactile characters, or you must have two signs, one visual and one tactile. The characters must be raised 1/32 inch minimum above their background, and must be all upper-case letters. Other than using sans serif, you must choose from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter "O" is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter "I". Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 5/8 inch (16 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter "I". Stroke thickness of the uppercase letter "I" shall be 15 percent maximum of the height of the character. Characters shall contrast with their background with either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background. Character spacing shall be measured between the two closest points of adjacent raised characters within a message, excluding word spaces. Where characters have rectangular cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum. Where characters have other cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the base of the cross sections, and 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the top of the cross sections. Characters shall be separated from raised borders and decorative elements 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) minimum. All of that, and we haven't even gotten to line spacing or the braille yet! So you can see how important it is to have your signs done by an experienced ADA sign company like ADA Central. They know all these requirements and specifications for ADA compliant signs, and have the ability to manufacture them quickly and efficiently. ADA Central is the place to go when you need signs that are ADA compliant for your business. So if you own a business of any kind and have 15 or more full-time employees, you must be ADA compliant, which is more than just having signage. If you're not familiar with these requirements, do some research and find out more about it. Not being in compliance with ADA requirements can lead to heavy fines, and open you up to lawsuits. You can seek guidance from organizations that will steer you through the process. Remember ADA Central for all your ADA signs. Learn how to file an ADA complaint today.