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The Importance of ADA Compliant Signs

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals in workplaces, schools, transportation, and other public and private settings. In 2008, the law was amended to clarify the definition of "disability." ADA guidelines designate not only how spaces should be constructed to ensure access, but also how signage within a space should communicate effectively to people of all abilities. Here are important considerations to keep in mind when choosing ADA compliant signs that meet federal regulations.


Looking Out for Disabled Individuals

An estimated 12.8% of Americans have a disability, according to Cornell University. States with higher populations of disabled people include Arkansas, West Virginia, and Kentucky, and the states with the lowest percentage of disabled residents include Utah, Colorado, New Jersey, and California.

California does, however, have a problem with able-bodied people using counterfeit or stolen handicap placards to occupy parking spaces designated for people with disabilities. ABC News reported in 2016 that at least one out of every eight California drivers uses disabled parking placards, but many use them illegitimately, which is a misdemeanor offense.


ADA Compliant Signs

Not all signs are required to comply with ADA guidelines. Signs used for marketing purposes or with temporary information are exempt, but all permanent architectural sings that designates a room, space, or exist must adhere to these guidelines.

It's imperative that disability signs are easy to read, particularly for individuals with impaired vision. Federal guidelines designate a standard font, with no italics or other decorative effects. ADA compliant signs must also have a background that contrasts with the foreground, such as a white font on a dark background or a dark font on a light background. Room labeling signs must be on or next to doors at a height visible for people who use wheelchairs.

Disability signs must also display the International Symbol of Access, a white wheelchair image over a blue square. While this universal symbol must remain consistent, sign messages that accompany it can be customized.

In order for a building to be granted a certificate of occupancy, its signage must adhere to these guidelines. Building owners can be fined hundreds of dollars for not using ADA compliant signs.


Common Signs for People with Disabilities

  • image of International Symbol of Access
  • Parking Only Van Accessible
  • Accessible Entrance
  • ADA Access: For Assistance Ring Bell
  • ADA Wheelchair Accessible
  • Handicap Parking Only

These signs are often found at entrances and exits, along with restrooms and parking lots. All disability signs must include braille so visually impaired users can understand them.


Using ADA compliant signs on your property ensures that disabled people are treated fairly and with respect. For more information about ADA compliant signs or any other type of sign, contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location.