• 07
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    ADA Signs: Their History And Why They’re Important

    Last month, the Macomb Daily reported that police officers in Warren were under investigation by Federal authorities who were concerned about their adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In this case, one complainant alleged their rights were violated when they were handcuffed, restricting the use of their hands for sign language. This is a reminder that ADA regulations are a daily concern for many. And as small business owners, it’s a regular part of running a shop, office, or restaurant. After all, we want to give those with limited mobility, visual impairments, and deafness the same access as everyone else. That’s why we create ADA signs.

    ADA sign in an office

    An example of an ADA sign we created for a client.

    How We Can Create The Right Signs

    There are very clear guidelines for ADA signs, and Detroit Sign Factory is able to provide our customers with options that adhere to those specifications. In fact, we recently worked with a Detroit-area governmental organization to help them with this very task. They were doing an office remodel and required Braille lettering on the signs marking their offices and permanent spaces.

    Complying with the ADA through signs is easy. But before we get into the details, it’s important to understand why (and when) regulations for ADA signs came into effect for small business owners.

    ADA sign with design

    A distinctly designed ADA sign that still adheres to regulations.

    1992: Guiding Small Businesses

    25 years ago, the ADA published their Guide for Small Businesses, a plain-language document informing non-profits and local businesses about how simple ADA compliance was. Step by step, they go through what restaurateurs, shop owners, and business owners of all types (including sign makers) needed to know to make sure their buildings and the spaces inside them were accessible.

    While this Federal civil rights law went into effect January of that year, the Guide emphasized that it understood a transition was happening. Therefore, they would have stricter guidelines for businesses established after January 26th, but have looser, more gradual policies for buildings erected before that date.

    Which Businesses Are Affected?

    In short, the Guide says everyone is affected:

    “These businesses may be large or small and can be for profit or non-profit … Nearly all types of private businesses that serve the public are included.”

    It also lets readers know these businesses should not spend so much money that their revenue is damaged, going on to explain how to redeem tax credits and deductions for changes made for ADA compliance purposes.

    The main thing small business owners need to know is which parts of their architecture are affected. The main things are parking spaces, building entrances, permanent spaces (like restrooms), and offices. Small businesses also need to think about things like whether or not their floor plans can accommodate wheel chairs, whether the handles on their doors are easily operable, and whether their signs are easily read by people who are visually impaired.

    ADA parking sign

    ADA parking signs we put installed for a local business.

    ADA Signs: How To Be Helpful

    There are many rules about signs including guidance for tactical, raised, and Braille letters. When finishing or remodeling an office, be sure to check the current guidelines for ADA signs to get the exact height at which you should hang signs, where they should be placed in relationship to doorways, and which raised characters to include.

    The ADA sign message also needs to made with non-glare material, and the fonts need to be fairly simple. These rules are in place to help folks who are visually impaired read them better. Sometimes restroom signs also need to have pictographs included. There are even distinctions between “State and Local Government Facilities” and “Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities,” so double-checking is always a smart decision.

    If you have questions about any of these rules, you can always visit the ADA’s website, you can contact a local architect, or call your favorite sign maker. We’re always happy to answer your questions.

    For more information about ADA signs and how we can provide them for you, feel free to explore our page about interior signs.

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