About The ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, was originally signed into being by President George Bush, Sr. in 1990 as a civil rights law prohibiting the discrimination of people who have a disability. It was then amended in 2008, and signed into law by President George Bush, Jr., with the changes going into effect in January, 2009. This now federal law, enforced for the most part by using stiff fines, states specifically, the following: "No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of a disability, in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of business, by any person who owns or leases (from or to), or operates a business." Furthermore, this has been upheld by the courts to include websites, as far as providing interactive online services for disabled people. And since businesses who fail to comply can be fined up to $75,000 for just one offense, and twice that much for each additional infraction (at $150,000), it is best to make the accommodations necessary for compliance, rather than waiting for a complaint to be filed.
In order for these changes to be effective, the construction, or rather the design, for these accessibility factors, must be fairly uniform for all businesses. In this way, people with disabilities can recognize universal symbols and be able to enter any business and know exactly where to find signage that offers the information they need, in order to navigate the business safely. It also states that businesses must remove any architectural barriers which prevent persons with disabilities the "full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations of any place of business." These things are called the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Any newly constructed business (on or after the 2010 amendments went into effect) must be built according to these specifications, which are extremely detailed in their descriptions of what is demanded. Older businesses built before these standards went into effect are also required to "remove these architectural barriers wherever they are readily achievable", which is defined as "without much difficulty or expense." Though slightly vague, if the business can make the changes and not suffer so much from the cost that they have to shut down, they are advised to do it, or are subject to huge fines as well as open themselves up for litigation. And one last thing; if you're wondering if your business might be exempt, unless you have less than 15 full-time employees, you must comply. Any business that provides public accommodation, which is defined as one that "allows members of the public onto its premises for the use of goods or services provided by the business" is expected to comply.
ADA Sign Requirements
So what about ADA signage? There are requirements for these, as well, and also are very detailed. But first, how do you know where signs are required? Well, that is described as; "if a sign identifies a permanent room or space of a facility (including exits), directs or informs about functional spaces of the facility, or identifies, directs to, or informs about accessible features of the facility, it must comply." Now that that's fairly clear, let's talk about some other general standards for ADA signs. Except for reflective parking and other traffic signs, ADA signs must be on non-glare backgrounds or surfaces, as well as have non-glare characters. They also must be of a very high contrast, as in dark letters on a light background, or light letters on a dark background, to make seeing it and reading it from a reasonable distance as easy as possible, even for someone with a disability. To meet ADA requirements, ADA signs must be visually clear, and have tactile lettering as well as Braille, underneath the raised text. It is ok to have more than one sign to accomplish this, but the signage must be clear for anyone to see, or to be able to find, and then "feel", as when referring to Braille. The character height for the letters is determined by using an ADA chart, which measures the height of where the sign is to be posted, along with the distance a person is supposed to be able to see it from, to get an accurate number. Otherwise, the chart will tell you each character should be somewhere between ⅝" inch - and - 2" inches high, be in all caps, and be in a sans serif font. Contracted Braille must be used, and be below the tactile raised lettering, right where it's supposed to be. Plus, each sign is to be posted on the wall next to the door it names, and on the latch side of the door. From the lowest line of Braille to the floor must measure no lower than 48" inches, and from the floor to the tops of these letters should be no higher than 60" inches.
ADA Parking Lot Signs
In the beginning of this article, the question was asked, what signs are required for ADA parking lot? Here is the answer. The international symbol of accessibility is the wheelchair pictogram you see on handicapped parking space signs, and is to be on all signs identifying these spaces. The lower edge of the signs should measure about 5' feet or 60" inches from the ground, and the ones which are van accessible need to say: "VAN ACCESSIBLE", underneath the easily recognizable white wheelchair symbol on dark blue background. They must clearly identify at least 25% of their spaces (of the total number) as handicapped accessible parking spots, in any parking lot with 4 or more spaces. That is all that's required for ADA signage in a parking lot. There are other specifics, such as parking spot measurements and requirements, wheelchair ramps, etc., but as for signs, that's it. Remember, for any ADA signage, go to ADA Central, where they've been specializing in ADA compliant signs for almost a decade. They can help you with all your questions about being ADA compliant. Do the right thing! Check out ADA Central today!