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How To Make Braille Signs

How To Make Braille Signs

Posted by Rochelle Harris on Aug 14th 2020

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that prevents any sort of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This encompasses a wide scope of things, but a large part of it includes making "reasonable accommodations" for those with disabilities if you own a business. A person who is blind or in a wheelchair (or both) should be able to navigate the building of your business, to include finding the restrooms, main rooms or offices and emergency exits. The ADA was originally signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, but has since been amended. President George W. Bush signed the new amendment in 2008, called the ADAAA, which raises the law to a federal level, among other things. If you're a business owner, it's even more important to make sure your business is ADA compliant, which includes making your building both accessible and navigational to individuals with disabilities. Obviously, this involves signage. Braille is, of course, one of the necessary requirements.


Unified English Braille is the "code" language for the blind, and as such is how they can read any written material. This version of braille has the current set of uniform rules by which written information is "translated" from standard written English to the language of the blind. If you are attempting to make your own signs for ADA compliance and want to know how to make braille signs, you would first and foremost need a 3-D printer, a Roland engraver, or some equivalent mammoth specialty machine, and a multitude of other measurements and specifications. It is truly amazing how particular and meticulous you have to be, in order to meet these sign requirements. Get a professional sign company like ADA Central, who specializes in ADA signs in particular, to do your required signage. There is just an overwhelming number of absolutely specific details in creating an ADA sign which have to be met perfectly. We will go over some of what's entailed in a later section. Braille itself is a system of touch-reading and writing-by-touch, in which the alphabet is represented by the arrangement of 6 dots in a space called a cell. A full cell is 3 dots high and 2 dots wide. The 6 dots of the cell are numbered 1, 2, 3 downward on the left, and 4, 5, 6 downward on the right. A braille character can stand for a single letter of the alphabet, or a whole word. It can stand for a digit or a punctuation mark, or even another symbol. But keep in mind, there are only 63 possible combinations. These same 63 different configurations must cover the entire alphabet, 0-9 numerals, all of the punctuation marks and all of the symbols that we use, in the English language today. Uncontracted braille is the set of rules used when each letter of every word is being represented by a cell dot-combination, and so on. Contracted braille refers to combinations of the alphabet and symbols to represent words that are frequently used in the English language. It is preferred to uncontracted braille, and having to spell out each word letter by letter. There are 180 contractions and short form words in UEB, and it is what's used primarily in the United States and Canada for all books, magazines and other standard forms of written information. This is the form of language used if you're trying to find out how to make braille signs. If you need to make your business ADA compliant, however, and are needing ADA signs that meet the requirements necessary, use a professional sign maker that specializes in ADA signs like ADA Central. Don't leave this vital area to chance, ADA Central has the experience you need to get the job done right, the very first time.


Braille & ADA Sign Requirements

You may be surprised to learn that not all ADA signs require braille. According to ADA Standards, braille is only required on signs that identify a room, space or area, whether it’s accessible to the public or just for employees. Some examples of rooms or areas that need braille are restrooms, classrooms, meeting rooms, utility rooms, common rooms, etc. Some examples of things which do not, are directional signs, staff only signs, elevator signs, informational signs, business hours signs, stairs signs, exit signs, etc. If your sign does require braille, be sure the text accompanying the braille is raised, as well. This is due to the fact that less than 10% of the legally blind population can actually read braille! A sign with braille makes it a tactile sign with the purpose of serving the visually impaired, which means the text needs to be raised as well. To make things easier for the visually impaired, it’s required that all braille is grouped together in one section, and always located at the bottom of the sign. ADA standards specify dimensional requirements in order to ensure that the braille is easy and comfortable to read, as in no sharp edges, etc.


The Details

It’s important to choose a sign vendor with experience in ADA signage, to ensure that the correct processes, materials and precise measurements are used. Making tactile signs is not easy. For example, there are 3 levels of complexity in UEB, and the ADA standards are that you use level 2. Grade/level 2 braille shortens the painstaking one-to-one letter transcription and adds hundreds of abbreviations and 265 contractions instead, making it easier and smaller to fit on signs. Letters and braille characters should be raised above the signs background with a minimum of 1/32”. The height range for raised letters and characters should be 5/8” minimum and 2” maximum. The sign itself should have a matte or glare-free finish. The tactile lettering as well as the braille dots themselves must highly contrast with the sign background, in order to stand out clearly and boldly. There are precise measurements for each raised letter and each coinciding braille dot, also. This includes things as precise and specific as individual dot height and dot diameter, space width between individual dots, horizontal and vertical cell separation measurements, and the list goes on. Hopefully now, you have a better idea of why it's so important to have an experienced and professional sign company like ADA Central do your signs for you. Get the job done completely and correctly, right from the start.