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Why Should Other Countries Consider Copying ADA Signs for their Own Use?

Updated on May 31, 2014
ADA Signs
ADA Signs

When you travel all around the US, you will find that signs used in almost any publicly accessible establishment share common features with each other. These features are actually used on these signs because of the ADA, which helps ensure that people with disabilities have the same kind of accessibility and opportunities as everyone else. If you are wondering what accessibility and opportunities have to do with how signs are made, then you should read on.

ADA signs have features that make these easy to read by anyone, and that includes those with visual impairments (these are the people who usually have difficulties when it comes to signage). The features that are found on these signs are designed in such a way that the letters and characters are easy to distinguish and understand. How are these made to have such features?

With a set of rules created by the government, these signs need to have very specific features that make these easy distinguish and understand. Some of these rules set certain parameters for color contrasts, fonts being used, and even mounting height. In order to be compliant with these government rules, your signs need to have all of the features required for particular signs.

Not all ADA compliant signs follow the same set of rules, although there are some rules that are used by all signs governed by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). For instance, signs that are used on doors that lead to permanent rooms (or spaces that are not seen to change use anytime soon, such as bathrooms, kitchens, closets and the like) need to have tactile features on them, but signs like directories and directional signs do not need to have such features on them. This is because door signs are reachable by human hands and directories as well as directional signs are often mounted at a very high height.

The rules that almost all ADA signs need to follow are the rules that are set for color contrast, for fonts being used, and for proper character size as per signage size. Proper mounting height that is proportionate to the size of the sign and the characters on it is also part of this list of rules. These guidelines need to be followed on all signs that are considered to be ADA ones, and failure to comply can easily mean fines, penalties, or even lawsuits.

ADA Symbols
ADA Symbols

Should ADA Signage Guidelines Be Used Internationally?

These rules are only used on American signs (since these are part of the Americans with Disabilities Act), but are actually rather universal in appeal, if you really think about it. People with disabilities, after all, are not exclusive to one country or even on continent alone. The rules that govern the creation of these signs should actually be applied to all signs used worldwide (in my opinion, anyway) since these can make it easier for everyone to understand any sign they see anywhere in the world.

There is actually a rule set by the United Nations for signs that can be easily understood and used by people with disabilities, however what features are used on these are left to the discretion of the country that is part of this agreement. This means that one country can create totally different sets of rules and signage designs that they feel are ideal for their adherence to this UN guideline as compared to another. This can bring about some confusion, and may require a bit of scrutiny and understanding when a person from another country encounters a sign that is different from one they are used to in their own country.

A set of signage rules similar to that used for ADA signs should indeed be used worldwide, and this should be considered by the UN. This will not only help travelers to easily understand the signs they are looking at (no matter what country they are in) but will also benefit people with disabilities worldwide. This is because these signs that are made using ADA guidelines are well designed and well thought out. Not that the signs designed and made by other countries for use by people with disabilities are any less effective, but that having a unified design for all signs is a rather logical idea, in my opinion, anyway.

Handicap Signs - ADA Compliant Signs
Handicap Signs - ADA Compliant Signs

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