ADA and Other Codes my help or not?
ADA and Other Codes
Signage in public areas of all buildings is subject compliance with federal, state and local code requirements, requiring the use of certain symbols, messages and graphic standards (Fig. 1).
To provide adequate signing for all users, including persons with disabilities, the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), first published in the Federal Register on July 26, 1991 describes specific requirements for the use of typestyles, minimum type sizes, message contrast, symbols, Braille characters, tactile messages, sign background gloss and sign placement. A summation of the ADA as it applies to signage can be found in the Society for Environmental Graphic Design “White Paper”, available through the SEGD, 401 F Street N. W., Suite 333, Washington, D.C. 20001. An Overview of the ADA Law is provided below.
State and local sign codes vary considerably, such as symbol signs for toilet room doors required in California (Fig. 2).
The accessibility requirements for informational signs, such as, building directories can seem confusing. Since the ADA does not specifically address informational signs, many people think that they are exempt from the regulations. This is not the case.
This type of sign must comply with the general requirements for sign finish, contrast and character proportion under the signage section of the ADA. Informational signs do not require Braille or tactile characters and symbols, but other signage requirements do apply:
Building Directories mounted behind glass must use non-glare glass.
Character proportions must meet the proper width to height ratio.
Characters and backgrounds of signs must be of an eggshell, matte or other non-glare finish.
Characters and symbols must contrast with their background (light background with dark letters or dark background with light letters).
Directories can be installed either as a projecting unit or integrated into a wall surface. Projecting units, however, must provide a skirt or “cane strike” to meet ADA requirements (Fig. 3).
Meeting these requirements will make informational signage easier to read for everyone.
OVERVIEW OF THE LAW
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect on January 26, 1992. The law requires these establishments to remove architectural and communication barriers where “readily achievable”. This means established business must make a good faith effort to accomodate the disabled, which includes the installation of ADA tactile and braille signage for the benefit of the visually impaired.
The ADA is an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with similar enforcement provisions, which are as follows:
A. Any person may file a federal lawsuit, either for individual discrimination or as a class action.
B. Any person may request the Department of Justice to investigate and act upon an ADA discrimination claim.
C. The attorney General may also file a civil action suit in cases of general public importance.
The courts can:
A. Order a facility made ADA accessible.
B. Award monetary damages of up to $50,000 for the first ADA violation and $100,000 for each subsequent violation.
Tax deductions of up to $15,000 for expenses incurred in the removal of architectural barriers are allowed by the IRS.
EFFECTIVE DATES AND STANDARDS ADA OF COMPLIANCE
Existing Facilities–Existing facilities defined as public accommodations must take steps to remove “architectural and communications barriers” by January 26, 1992, where such removal is “readily achievable” or easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense”.
Alterations–Alterations to existing facilities defined as public accomodations or commercial facilities must generally be “readily accessible to and usable by the disabled, to the maximum extent feasible” if the alterations is begun after January 26, 1992. When ADA alterations are made to a “primary function area” an accessible path of travel” to the altered area, and the restrooms area, telephones and drinking fountains must be made. The additional accessibility costs need not be “disproportionate” relative to the overall alteration.
New Construction–New construction of public accomodations or commercial facilities must be “readily accessible and usable by “the disabled if the ADA facility is first occupied after January 26, 1993, assuming the last official permits were issued after January 26, 1992.
2. Food/drink service
4. Public gathering
7. Transportation station
8. Public display/collection
11. Social service
Commercial Facility–An ADA facility whose operations will affect commerce, that are intended for non-residential use by a private entity, and facilities that are not either covered or expressly exempted from coverage under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, or ADA act of 1992, and cannot be aircraft or railroad cars.
Exemption–Any private club, religious entity, or government entity.
EFFECTIVE DATES AND STANDARDS OF ADA COMPLIANCE
Existing Facilities— Existing facilities defined as public accommodations must take steps to remove “architectural and communications barriers” by January 26, 1992, where such removal is “readily achievable” or “easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense”. priority should be given to ADA measures that will enable individuals with disabilities to “get in the front door”, followed by measures providing ADA access to goods and services and providing access to restroom facilities. If physical barrier removal is not “readily achievable”, the facility may be required to take appropriate alternative ADA measures, such as having store employees assist in removing articles from high shelves.
Alterations— alterations to existing facilities defined as public accommodations or commercial facilities must be “readily accessible to and usable by the disabled, to the maximum extent feasible” if the ADA alteration is begun after January 26, 1992. When alterations are made to a “primary functions area,” an accessible path of travel” to the altered area, and the restrooms, telephones and drinking fountains must be made. The additional ADA accessibility costs need not be “disproportionate” relative to the overall alteration.
New Construction— New construction of public accommodations or commercial facilities must be “readily accessible and usable by” the disabled if the facility is first occupied after January 26, 1993, assuming the last official permits were issued after January 26, 1992. The standard of ADA compliance is highest for new construction and is not limited by “disproportionate cost” or “readily achievable” regulations.
Applicable law sections are 4.30.1 through 4.30.8.
Signs which designate permanent rooms and spaces. Regulations require that ADA signage have raised lettering, braille and pictograms as well as being mounted in a specific location. Recommended sign types:
Directional and Informational Signs
Signs which provide direction to, or information about functional spaces of a building. Regulations require signs to comply with character proportion, height, finish and contrast rules. Lowercase is acceptable and braille is not required.
Signs which are “Projected or suspended overhead” must meet ADA requirements for clearance, character proportion, finish and contrast.
“Building directories, menu boards and all other signs which provide temporary information about rooms and spaces, such as the current occupant’s name, are not required to comply” with the ADA guidelines.
ADA SIGN REQUIREMENTS
Accompanied by Grade 2 braille
Upper case & sans serif
Width-to-height ratio between 3:5 and 1:1
Stroke width-to-height ratio between 1:5 and 1:10
Tactile ADA characters at least 5/8″ high, but no higher than 2″
Minimum 3″ high
Sized to viewing distance
Text equivalent directly below
Text outside of background area
Background area 6″ high
Finish/Contrast of Characters/Background:
Eggshell, or matte non-glare finish 70% contrast between backgrounds
On wall next to latch side of door
Avoids swinging doors
Avoids protruding objects
60″ from floor to sign centerline
Minimum 80″ clearance from floor
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