ADA Signage in Assisted Living Facilities & Nursing Homes

Assisted living facilities are home to many people who are dealing with a variety of disabilities, including Alzheimer’s, dementia, and physical & visual impairment.  Because of this, clear ADA signage is an important priority. 

It’s incredibly important for residents to be able to feel secure, oriented, and independent in the places where they live. 

Conditions like Alzheimer’s can lead to confusion related to time and place. In addition to this, many older folks suffer age-related vision impairment.

Lots of people who currently live in assisted living facilities and nursing homes spent a much longer time living in their own home. As a result, a larger building with many rooms and hallways is less familiar to them. This may increase their chances of getting lost or confused.

The purpose of ADA signage in any building is to ensure that people using the building are able to locate their destination in a safe and timely manner.

This is a much more emotional issue in a space where people are living full-time, especially for someone who may already be frightened by their memory loss.

An architectural firm or general contractor tasked with contracting signage for an assisted living facility may not know where to start. What, exactly, constitutes a compliant ADA sign? 

How can signs most benefit residents of the facility?

The very basics of ADA signage requirements is a good place to start. Signs must be made on a matte or non-glare surface. People with vision impairment may not be able to clearly see signs that are very shiny or reflective; a non-glare sign eliminates that issue. 

Text on signs also must be a certain size, a minimum of ⅝” high – ideally, larger if possible.

Pictograms aren’t always required, but they can offer a lot in terms of allowing a sign’s meaning to be quickly understood. Pictograms also must be located in their own 6×6” area on the sign with no other elements in that space. This keeps the design from being busy or distracting from its intended meaning.

Numbering for resident rooms is also important, but since many facilities are fairly large and may contain a lot of resident rooms, these signs ideally should contain more information than just a number. 

Removable insert slots for residents’ names are a helpful addition to room identification signage.

Another option many assisted living facilities and nursing homes are using is a removable insert area on room signs that allows a photograph to be added to the sign. 

It’s also possible to UV print a photograph or image of the resident or family’s choice on the sign itself.

An emotionally significant photo is proven to help residents recognize their room.

The ability for residents to quickly and easily find their way around is not just about convenience for staff– it’s about independence for residents, too.

The ability to find one’s own way from point A to point B without having to ask for help is a confidence booster at a time in one’s life when feelings of helplessness might be overwhelming.

Wayfinding signage is also incredibly important in ADA compliance. In a large, unfamiliar building, it’s always helpful to refer to signage that points you in the right direction.

Color-coding, icons, and pictures allow sign meaning to be easily understood.

If a building contains several wings or areas, it could be helpful for each area to have a designated color.

This means that residents could see at a glance that they are in their own hallway based on colors or icons incorporated into the signs around them.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are a space where comfort, safety, and independence are paramount to residents’ quality of life.

Because each one of these place is filled with someone’s loved ones, ensuring quality of ADA signage is a simple way to make life just a little easier for everyone involved.

Give us a call today for help planning your assisted living facility project! We’ll walk you through the steps and make sure the signs adhere to guidelines, stay consistent with company branding, and make life simple for residents.

Do My Signs REALLY Have to be ADA Compliant?

How important is ADA compliance, really?

You may find yourself wondering why it really matters to make sure all your signage follows the rules set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some of those rules might not even really make sense to the average person, like the rules about text size. What’s the difference if the text is a little smaller than ⅝”? Who cares if I use a serif font instead of san serif? Is anyone really going to notice?

These may seem like inconsequential details, but the truth is that these are all rules for a good reason. The purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines is to be sure that signage, as well as public spaces in general, are accessible to everyone. If you’ve lived your whole life without any sort of physical disability or vision impairment, chances are good that you barely notice things like the size of the text on a sign, or the wheelchair ramp outside of a building.

However, for someone who uses a wheelchair, or who has vision impairment, the lack of a wheelchair ramp can ruin a whole day. Imagine arriving somewhere and finding out that you aren’t able to enter the building safely. Whether it’s for a doctor’s appointment or a dinner with friends, this sort of setback is a big deal.

The Real Cost of Inaccessibility

A lot of us take accessibility for granted. In fact, for a company in charge of the signage portion of a building project might have a planned budget for signage. When their signs have to be slightly larger than originally planned in order to accommodate text at the necessary size, it can be frustrating– larger signs often equal more expensive signs when pricing is determined by surface area.

Sometimes, sign size is planned based on available wall space. If a sign ends up having to be larger, additional planning is required to figure out where the sign should be placed.

However, if a company decides to go ahead with a noncompliant sign, there’s a real risk involved. If there happens to be an inspection and the signage is deemed noncompliant, your company will be fined $75,000 for a first offense and $150,000 for any subsequent violations. That’s why it’s imperative to plan ahead of time and make sure your building meets the guidelines. It may cost a little extra at the start, but that extra cost is worth it when compared to a potential $75,000 fine.

The Problem with ADA Compliant Signage

As previously mentioned, signs often have to be redesigned in order to accommodate larger text. The ADA guidelines state that tactile text must be a minimum of ⅝” tall. Not only that, but there must be a certain amount of space (⅜”) between the text and the edge of the sign or any other sign elements, like Braille or pictograms.

Typically, construction companies, general contractors, and architects tend to design signage as small as possible to cut down on cost. However, if the text has to be larger in order to meet ADA minimums, the sign must be made larger accordingly.

This can be a frustrating part of the process for those in charge of the signage portion of various building projects. Space is often at a premium when the building has been planned down to the last square inch, and an upset in this planning can put a halt on completion of construction.

In short, making sure that signs adhere to ADA guidelines and are 100% compliant can add some cost and extra planning onto a project.

Note: If you’re a sign shop that specializes in ADA signage and a customer insists on signage that isn’t compliant, it’s best to clearly mark that the signs are NOT compliant on the proofs you put together for them. Even better if you can get written acknowledgement from your customer that they’re aware the signs aren’t compliant. 

A Task for Experts

There is good news in all this: there are people who are extremely well versed in the construction and design of ADA signage. Our graphic designers happen to be part of that group!

You don’t have to pore through the ADA guidelines and try to figure out exactly what’s required of the signage for your project. All you have to do is contact someone whose job it is to know these guidelines and have them walk you through the project.

The aesthetics and design of your signs doesn’t have to be negatively impacted by ADA compliance, either. We’re able to make signage to match virtually any color or style.

At the end of the day, when you contact us for a free quote or a design consult, you’ll end up with signs that look great, last a long time, and above all, won’t cost your company $75,000 in fines. Everybody wins!

Top 5 Ways to Create High-Visibility ADA Signage

Considering the visibility of ADA signs is important when purchasing signage. ADA guidelines are designed to make sure that signage is accessible to those with vision impairment. But this means a lot more than just making sure each sign has compliant braille on it!

The color and contrast specifications in ADA signage laws exist so that signs are easily findable. A sharp contrast between text and background means that the signs are easier to read from a distance, too.

You’re already familiar with the huge variety of materials available for making ADA-compliant signage. It’s possible to create a compliant sign to match just about any existing interior design or company brand. But making sure your signs are eye-catching is about more than just unique design– it’s about accessibility!

1. Dimensional Signage

A great and affordable way to give your signs maximum visibility is to design dimensional signage.

Quite simply, signs that are dimensional and stick out just a little bit further from the wall are more eye-catching.

Adding a brushed aluminum or contrasting acrylic backer is a great way to add a little extra “pop” to your signage.

You can also use standoffs to achieve a little extra dimension. Standoffs are available in a wide variety of colors, materials, and finishes.

LED Standoffs

You can also find standoffs with built-in LED lighting that adds a subtle glow to your signage. This is especially useful in rooms that may be darkened– like a conference room during a presentation.

LED standoffs add a contemporary touch to your signage. The LEDs can even be made in any color you want!

Super-Tactile Lettering

The required dimension of tactile lettering on ADA signage is 1/32” from the face of the sign. But you can create extra-dimensional lettering and pictograms by using different thicknesses of acrylic material.

This has the same effect as using dimensional sign backers– it’s more eye-catching. It’s also a unique way to display room numbers!

UV Printed Backers

Our in-house UV printer is able to print gorgeous digital images on virtually any surface. You can’t go wrong with classic, solid-color ADA sign backers, but if you want to add a little extra something to your signage, consider a UV-printed backer.

Photoluminescent Signage

In the event of a power failure, wayfinding can become a safety issue. If your building’s dark, it doesn’t matter how compliant your signage is– you can’t see it without any light!

To avoid this situation, you might want to consider using photoluminescent, or “glow-in-the-dark” signage. These signs will glow in a dark room and let people know how to safely find their way to the exit.

Check out our Pinterest page for design inspiration, and reach out today to discuss how you can make sure your company’s signage is visible to everyone. We’ll walk you through the process and provide a free quote for the signage you need!

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ADA 101 Part 2: The Basics

Sample pictograms that might be present on ADA signs.

You already know that ADA signs are required by law in public buildings and why. You already know that ADA signs don’t all have to look exactly the same– you can follow the guidelines and still have signs that look unique. There’s a wide range of colors, materials and styles available for ADA signage, and there’s no one way an ADA sign has to look.

But… what exactly are the rules?

Let’s start with the basics:

ADA signs that identify a room, space, or area must have raised characters and braille. They are required for both public access areas and all employee areas.

This means that the two basic characteristics of ADA signage are tactile lettering, which is dimensional above the main surface of the sign (typically 1/32”), and braille, which is a tactile form of writing in which characters are represented by patterns of dots.

A closeup image of braille lettering.

The tactile lettering also has to be a certain size in order to maximize its visibility for those who have vision impairment.

The accepted letter height for tactile lettering is ⅝” to 2”.

The letters themselves have to contrast a certain amount from the sign face, too. A light background should have dark lettering, and vice versa. The braille itself can be clear, since it’s designed to be touched, not seen.

The lettering has to be in a sans serif font.

An image showing the differences between serif fonts and sans serif fonts.

It also has to be in all capital letters. Sans serif fonts are typically easier to read from a distance, or at a glance, since their lines are simpler and cleaner.

Bold, italic, and decorative fonts are also not allowed, for the same reason: they are more difficult to read.

There are also rules about the finish of the sign itself.

The sign can’t be too shiny or glossy.

ADA signs are required to have a matte, nonglare finish.

If a sign happens to be too shiny or reflective, it won’t be as easy to read.

Sample pictograms that might be present on ADA signs.

Pictograms have to be within their own 6×6” field, which ensures their visibility.

Other elements within that field could be distracting or even obstruct the pictogram itself.

Mounting height is important, too.

A diagram of the appropriate mounting height for ADA signage.

ADA signs must be installed a minimum of 48” above the floor, and can’t be installed any higher than 60” above the floor.

There can be lots of room for confusion within these guidelines. If you aren’t sure whether a sign requires a pictogram, or whether a certain font is compliant or not, you can always ask our ADA experts!

We’ll work with you from beginning design to final installation to make sure your signs follow all the rules and look great, too.

Contact us for a free quote today!

7 Ways for ADA Signs to Stand Out in a Crowd

A group of metallic ADA signs with a UV printed logo in the top right corner.

ADA signs are bright blue. Matte black. White.

When someone mentions ADA signs, the image most people conjure up is standard. They’re easy to read. Located near doors. Braille at the bottom. Often some kind of pictogram. Block lettering.

We make ADA signs and sell them at wholesale prices, and many of the signs we make are standard-issue, regular ADA signs. People are ordering them to check an item off their list of things a building needs to pass inspections. We excel at making these signs and we do it with pride; we’re experts at ADA signage laws and guidelines.

There’s nothing wrong with going the standard route! But ADA signs can pass inspection, meet every guideline, and stand out, too. Here are some suggestions for creating signs you and your customers will be proud of.

1. Brushed Aluminum Acrylic

One of our most popular ADA signage materials is a faux brushed aluminum acrylic. It can be used either for lettering or sign backers.

The benefits of using this material are countless. It’s got a stylish, modern look. It’s lighter than real aluminum– which means that signs are both more cost-effective and easier to mount. It also looks just like “the real thing”. Without holding a piece of it in their hands and looking closely, the average person can’t tell the difference between the two.

2. Unique Materials

A closeup of cherry wood laminate.A closeup of white marble laminate with black veins running through it.

Laminates are often used as a cost-effective alternative to real marble or wood, for floors and countertops. They add a specific look to home decor. But did you know that laminates aren’t only used for interior design?

ADA signs can be backed with laminate for a unique look. Luckily, laminates are available in a huge variety of colors and styles. Virtually every type of wood and marble are available, both in brand-new and faux-weathered styles. The possibilities are endless!

3. Digitally Printed Accents

A group of metallic ADA signs with a UV printed logo in the top right corner.

UV printing opens up a whole new world of design possibilities for ADA signage.

Designs can be printed directly onto the face of a sign. This means a company logo or any decorative accents you like can be added to signage without compromising ADA compliance.

Adding a brand-identifying UV print accent to a set of signs unifies design.

4. Die-Cut Accents

A sign with a bright yellow circle applique, with a die-cut bird logo. A group of signs, each with a die-cut bright orange accent added.

Die-cut, colorful acrylic leaves.

Dare to be a pop of color in a black-and-white world!

Consider adding a colorful die-cut acrylic appliqué to otherwise simple ADA signs. Eye-catching colors automatically draw attention.

5. Color Combinations

ADA guidelines only allow certain color combinations. This is because signs have to have the right amount of contrast, making them easy to read from a distance and for those with vision impairment.

This doesn’t mean that signs have to be black and white, though! As long as the signs display an appropriate degree of contrast, virtually any two colors can be used.

6. Layers

An ADA sign made from two separate layers of material.

Layered signs are unique!

Adding a contrasting backer to a sign (maybe even one made from a wood or marble laminate!) makes a sign more dimensional and more eye-catching.

Eye-catching signage is a must- signs contain useful information that people need to find their way around.

7. Standoffs

A fire evacuation route sign mounted to the wall with standoffs.

The metallic hardware in the corners of the above signs are called standoffs. They’re useful for mounting signs to walls that need a firmer hold than typical VHB (Very High Bond) double-sided tape provides.

They can also just be decorative. They lend themselves especially well to multi-layer signs. Standoffs allow the surface of the sign to be a little closer to the viewer than the surface of a wall, which attracts attention.

Standoffs can even be lit with LEDs!

We love making unique signs!

Our talented designers, dedicated production team, and skilled install crew take pride in their work. Creating a project that stands out is gratifying for us and our customers alike. We want you to love your signs!

Contact us today for a free quote, and we’ll work alongside you to brainstorm how your signs can attract attention and stay true to your unique vision.

ADA Signage 101: What are ADA signs and why do they matter?

ADA signage is present in just about every public building in the US. We spend our whole lives surrounded by it in schools, churches, airports, doctor’s offices, restaurants– you name it. Most of us never really give it much thought. It simply exists, telling us where to go in a new place.

 

ADA-compliant fire safety signage with custom color pictogram and braille.
ADA signs with a sleek outline and unique color accent.

Why are ADA signs important?

The passage of the laws outlined in the ADA make sure that public spaces, above all, are safe and accessible for those with disabilities. Before these laws were passed in 1990, no comprehensive laws existed to protect the rights and comfort of Americans with disabilities. 

The ADA’s most recent revision in 2010 is a 200+ page document going into great detail about requirements for buildings. Most notably, it explains the way ADA-compliant signs are supposed to look.

These details help readers understand how to make public spaces accessible. Both visual and physical accessibility are crucial to ensure that the estimated 3.4 million Americans with vision impairment can safely find their way.

Do all ADA signs have to look exactly the same?

Custom-cut ADA sign with ornamental corners, unique pictogram and required braille components.
A laser-cut ADA sign in a custom shape.

The guidelines in the 2010 revision of the ADA Standards document give information about accessible, compliant sign design. However, its rules may seem a little strict and visually limiting.

What if your building has its own set of design standards? What can be done to make the ADA signage fit in with the general design concept of the building’s other signage?

ADA signage is required by law, but it doesn’t have to be boring.

The font used on your signs can’t be too ornamental. They must be a certain size and a certain distance away from other visual elements. ADA guidelines only permit certain colors and materials. For example, signs can’t have a glossy, reflective finish– only nonglare, matte materials can be used.

There are lots of design requirements for ADA signage, but you don’t have to sacrifice your company’s design standards to meet them.

Every sign we create is custom-built. Our talented designers are ADA experts so you don’t have to be. Most importantly, we work one-on-one with customers to ensure that the wholesale signs we make fit your vision and your budget.

You can meet the sign requirements and still be unique.

Translucent white sign with a clean, eye-catching design that meets ADA requirements.
A custom-designed ADA-compliant sign with unique graphics and a clean layout.

We can match any paint color with our cutting-edge paint color technology. Precision laser-cutting and a massive variety of sign materials and colors help us make sure your signs look good. Finally, our wholesale pricing allows you to make sure signs don’t break the bank.

Contact us today for a free quote on your wholesale ADA signs. We share a common goal with our customers: to make signs that look great and get people where they need to go.

We’ll be happy to talk you through the process and make sure your signs look great and pass inspections!

ADA Sign Building Article in Sign Builder Illustrated

ADA Signs Wholesale and Sign Builder Illustrated

ADA Signs Wholesale Featured in Sign Builder Illustrated

The Digital Guide article can be found on page 39 of Sign Builder Illustrated's February 2016 Issue
The Guided Path, page 39

This month (February 2016) we’re proud to announce that we’ve been featured in Sign Builder Illustrated Magazine. The Guided Path article by Mike Antoniak, featuring Signs PDQ and ADA Signs Wholesale Co-Founder, Donald O’Toole, can be found on page 39 of Sign Builder Illustrated’s February 2016 Issue.

The Guided Path article covers many aspects of the ADA Sign Project Process, including how sign shop owners can work with us to get their ADA Sign projects completed properly, on time, customized to match decor and within budget.

Check out the article here. If you’re a Sign Shop Owner, we’d love to show you how we can help you earn a profit on your next ADA Compliant Sign Project. Call us at 1-440-951-6651 or email us at quotes

[at] signspdq.com.

Mike Antoniak’s article also covers many of the considerations that should be addressed before embarking on an ADA Sign Project. ADA Signs Wholesale and Signs PDQ are committed to getting you the best TRUE wholesale prices, the best quality signs, while helping you understand the correct and compliant method of installation of all ADA signage.

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