The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1991
The Department of Justice on the celebration of the sixth signing of the American
Act activated issued an "ADA Guide for Small Business" and activated a site. The ADA
discrimination against 49 million disabled Americans in employment in public
accommodations and public services.
The Department of Justice was receiving over 75.000 calls a
year to their ADA holine concerning
how to comply with current ADA laws and regulations the web site provides helpful
To use the site type in http://www.usjoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm. The toll free number for help isstill 1.800.514.0301 if
you don't have web access. The web site will find it has useful information aboutongoing enforcement efforts, technical information, what the law requires and local, state and
You can order a 15 page pamplet called "ADA Guide for Small Business". Call the US
Federal Governments Printing Office at
202.512.1800 and request document 1996-405-033-814-54282.
For a full listing of the ADA regulations and pamphlets, write to: Disability
Section; Civil Rights Division; U.S. Department of Justice; PO Box 66738;
What is ADA?
On July 26, 1991 the U.S. Congress passed Public Law
101-336, the American Disabilities Act, commonly referred to as ADA. The purpose of the law is to eliminate
discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The plan establishes standards addressing discrimination
and methods to vigorously enforce these standards.
Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations to be
accessible to people with disabilities through affirmative efforts to remove physical barriers to the full and
equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations by all. This is the
part that applies to signage; the ADA affects not only the facility, but also the policies, procedures and
practices of the organization, including the employees themselves.
The ADA changes everything since the new regulation will be
enforced by the U.S. Attorney General. The new law is covered under regulation by the Department of Justice
and permits private parties to file complaints with the Attorney
General to stop discrimination.
In suits brought by the Attorney General, monetary damages
and civil penalties may be awarded. Civil penalties may not exceed $50,000 for the first violation or $100,000
for any subsequent violations. It has been reported that
organizations for the disabled will send “testers” into buildings to determine if a facility complies with the
ADA rules. Should the property not be in compliance, the
organization will file complaints with the Attorney General and will bring lawsuits. Hospitals most likely will
be at the top of the compliance list.
Therefore, compliance with ADA signage requirements should
be a priority.
Who is required to have ADA
Any facility where the completed application for a building
permit or permit extension is filed after Jan. 26, 1992 and the facility will be occupied after Jan. 26, 1993
must comply with all aspects of the law.
Alterations to facilities:
Any alteration undertaken after Jan. 26, 1992 shall be made
to comply with the maximum extent feasible to make the facility readily accessible and usable by individuals
The removal of architectural barriers and communication
barriers that are structural in nature should be done where such removal is “READILY ACHIEVABLE,” i.e. easily
accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. Establishment of a “good faith
effort” program is crucial.
Who is not required to have
- Private clubs (except to the extent that the
facility of the private club are made available to customers or patrons of a place of public
accommodations). * (see below for further definition)
- Any religious entity – a religious organization,
including a place of worship.
- A public entity – (1) Any state or local government
(2) Any department, agency, special purpose district of state or local government. They are covered under
their own set of regulations.
- Commercial facilities – Those facilities that are
intended for non-residential use by a private entity and whose operations affect commerce are not required
* Public Accommodation – A facility that is operated by
a private entity and whose operation affects commerce and falls in one of the following categories which are
required to comply with ADA signage regulations:
- Place of lodging
- Establishment serving food or drink
- Places of exhibition or
- Places of public gathering
- Sales or rental establishments
- Service establishments
- Stations used for specified public
- Places of public display of
- Places of recreation
- Places of education
- Social service center establishments
- Places of exercise or recreation
What are the ADA specs related to
- All letters and numbers must be raised 1/32”. Engraved
and vinyl lettering are no longer acceptable for compliance purposes.
- Letters must be uppercase only.
- Signs must include Grade 2 Braille messages in addition
to tactile visual messages. (Pictograms)
- The minimum copy height for wall mounted signs will be
5/8” and no higher than 2”.
- Typefaces will be “sans serif or simple serif”. This
would be typestyles such as Helvetica Medium and Optima.
- The width-to-height ratio for letters and numbers will
be between 3:55 and 1:1. Stroke width-to-height ratio will be between 1:55 and 1:10.
- Mounting shall be 60” above the finished floor to the
centerline of the sign on the latch side of the door.
- The characters and background shall be eggshell, matte
or other non-glare finish.
- The color of characters and symbols shall contrast with
their backgrounds, either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background. (70%
minimum contrast) * This is detailed under section XI “What colors meet ADA contrast
- The border dimension of the pictogram shall be 6”
minimum in height.
- Overhead or projected signage shall have 80" minimum
clear headroom and the character height must be a mimimum of 3".
What signs do not have to have ADA? (Raised letters
- Informational signs
- Temporary signage
VI. What types of signs comply with ADA regulations
at this time?
- Engraved ADAtypes of Braille can be used on ADA
Engraved into the front surface of the material leaving
only the Braille dots raised in a rectangular border.
(See example below)
Drilled into the front surface of the material with a
1.44mm drill and placing molded acrylic beads into the surface.
(See example below)
Both types of Braille are grade II which is the preferred
manner for the visually impaired to read.
Where do we mount ADA signs?
Permanent rooms and spaces shall have signs installed on
the wall adjacent to the latch side of the door at 60” above the finished floor to the centerline of the
- If no wall space on the latch side of the door exist,
signs shall be mounted on the nearest adjacent wall.
- Mounting location shall be so that a person may
approach within 3” of the sign without encountering protruding objects or standing within the swing of a
- All overhead and projected signs shall have a clearance
of 80” between the lowest edge and the finished floor.
We look forward to hearing from you!