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Different Kinds of Door Signs and the Different Rules Each Type Needs to Follow

Updated on September 1, 2015
Door Signs
Door Signs

If you look around you at the doors that are being used in office buildings, schools, hospitals and hotels, you will notice that the signs being used on these doors come in different colors, sizes, fonts, shapes and copy. Some carry only numbers while others have words on them, still a few more may carry names and official designations. This just shows us that door signage can carry anything and can be used in any type of room.

Of course, while these signs can be made to carry any type of information on them and can be crafted in any design that you may feel you want it to carry, this does not mean that there are no rules to follow in their creation. In reality, signs that are used on doors, and in most buildings in the US for that matter, are actually subject to rules set by the government. These rules can be found within the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, along with other guidelines that cover other accessibility requirements.

ADA Compliant Signs
ADA Compliant Signs

Sign Types and the ADA Rules Covering Each One

When it comes to door signs, there are a set number of rules for these. The kinds of rules that you follow for a specific kind of signage for one door may differ from the set of rules meant for use with another kind of sign used on another door. Generally speaking, the rules that you need to follow are broken down into the kinds of rooms that these doors will lead to. There are permanent rooms, standard rooms, and temporary rooms. Each will require a specific type of sign with specific features on them to make them ADA compliant.

You will notice that rooms that are considered permanent ones, or rooms that won’t change usage anytime soon due to features that are not removable (this includes such rooms as bathrooms, kitchens, closets, and the like), are the ones that require signs with the most number of ADA features on them. These are called permanent room signs. The features that are required for these kinds of door signs include tactile characters and Braille translations that can be read with the use of a person’s fingertips.

Apart from the tactile features, such room signs need to have the right color contrast, which is at 70% (this means that the background has to be either 70% darker or lighter than the characters on it). These signs also need to use fonts that are easy to read and understand, and these are sans serif fonts. You will also notice that these kinds of signs also need to be mounted at a very specific height and a very specific location, which is also mandated by the ADA.

Other rules that cover these door signs also include the size of the characters as per the size of the sign, the spacing between letters and even the spacing between the Braille dots on it. The kinds of dots used to create the Braille translations also need to follow very specific rules, and the raised characters also need to follow set guidelines for how raised they are from the sign background.

Other door signs can actually carry these very same features, even they are not considered permanent room signs. This is at the discretion of the person ordering these signs however, and is usually done to simply prevent issues with non-compliance. Even if a door sign does not need tactile letters on them since these are offices that can change users at any time, some businesses choose to use ADA signage on these for uniformity.

Other Signs and Rules That Cover Them

Door signs are not the only signs that need to follow rules set by the government. All other signs that you see in office buildings, schools, hospitals and structures that are accessed by the public, are also subject to very specific rules and guidelines set by the ADA. Directional signs, for instance, need to have the right color contrasts as well, and may even require tactile features on them, if these are mounted at the same height as door signs. Directories on the other hand, may only need to follow the font usage and color contrast rules since these are usually mounted at a very high point, making these difficult to reach with your hands.

In order for you to avoid the penalties and the fines that come with non-compliance, it is important that you follow the rules for each kind of sign your building or office needs. If you are unsure which rules apply to which signs, a compliance expert may be able to help you with these. Non-compliance can come with hefty fines and with the need to have signs redone to fit the rules, which also means added costs. So it is a good idea to have your door signs, and other signage, made with these rules firmly in place.


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