Accessible signage can be extremely difficult to achieve if you don’t know what is required and what is not required. This is especially important if you are ordering custom signage that is both compliant with California Title 24 and looks good in your store!
The above unisex restroom sign is a great example of a sign that looks great, but actually has unnecessary elements. Consider the use of this sign: It is to be mounted on the restroom’s door, which is usually the only entrance and exit for the restroom.
Question: Why does this sign need Braille, “RESTROOM” in tactile (touchable) lettering and the ISA (International Symbol of Access, or the wheelchair symbol) on it?
Answer: It doesn’t need any of it. Putting Braille and tactile lettering on a door that constantly opens and closes without warning can be a safety risk for a visually-impaired person trying to read the sign. By law, you need all of this on a separate sign, mounted next to the door’s latch-side. By placing it there, someone can feel and read the Braille and raised, tactile lettering without having to worry about getting the door slammed on them. Also, the word “RESTROOM” and the ISA are not required on a door sign (though it can be helpful). The ISA can either be on the door or the latch sign.
There are a few other things to note about this sign. Notice that both the triangle (Men’s) and circle (Women’s) are blue. In dim lighting, the triangle may be impossible to see against the same-colored circle and does not provide sufficient contrast. Also, if the door itself is painted blue, it would be difficult to see the circle’s outline as well. Your restroom sign can actually be any color, not just blue. Just make sure it contrasts (light vs. dark, dark vs. light) with your door. A compliant restroom door sign (if it was blue) would probably look like this instead:
Now that we’ve covered the door sign, let’s take a look at the latch-side restroom sign. All of your accessible features should be featured on it, and also note the difference between latch-side and strike-side of a door: latch-side is where the door’s handle and closing latch are located, while the strike-side has the door’s hinges and the door will strike the wall when fully extended. There are specifications for the Braille and tactile lettering as well.The example on the right is generally what you’d be looking for in a latch-side restroom sign, but it is by no means the only style of sign you can install. One thing you must keep in mind, however, is that tactile text must be uppercase.
One of the best designers of accessible signs that we’ve ever seen is H. Toji & Company. Sharon Toji, a principal of the company, is one of the nation’s most qualified experts on accessible sign design and is a voting delegate to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that writes accessiblity standards used by the International Building Code and are the basis for the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). She is also a member of the Access Advisory Committee to the California State Building Standards Commission, among others.
H. Toji & Company offers customizable signs with a wide selection of fonts, decorations and shapes, and have incorporated numerous features such as inlaid lettering and beveled edges that increase the sign’s durability, longevity and readability. If you are in need of accessible signage for your business, you cannot go wrong with signs from this company.
Read our ADA FAQ for more information on general liability. For information about assessing your site yourself or hiring an ADA expert, please look at our ADA Consultation page.
Or, give us a call at (866) 982-3212 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can consult with you to determine your full accessibility needs, and refer you to Sharon Toji for any custom sign design specifications that you need.
*Note: The California Building Code may have changed its requirements since the writing of this article.
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