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.