When installing wayfinding signage in public spaces, follow guidelines set in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure optimal accessibility. The goal of the ADA is to prevent discrimination and make spaces more accessible for individuals with physical, mental, or sensory disabilities or chronic illnesses. ADA outlines the minimum legal requirements, and its guidelines often dictate the need for hanging or wall-mount signage to meet those standards in public, commercial, or workspaces. To take steps toward a comprehensive approach to accessibility, use those same specifications to design floor tape and signage that helps you meet those objectives.
Using Floor Tape to Supplement ADA-Compliant Signage
Supplement ADA-compliant wayfinding signage with floor marking products for improved accessibility. Using floor tape and signs to communicate redundant messaging establishes inclusivity as a priority for your business and makes it easier for those with disabilities to navigate your facility. Because they are durable, customizable, and designed to stand up to heavy traffic, Superior Mark™ products are ideal for reiterating these primary messages. Many ADA guidelines remain applicable when using floor tape to meet those directional and safety objectives for accessibility.
What are ADA Directional Signage Requirements?
The ADA outlines requirements for wayfinding signage, including guidelines for size of text and graphics (to ensure legibility from certain distances), the height at which signs are hung (so they are easily visible and can be accessed by those in need of tactile signs), and for their placement and location (to ensure they can adequately communicate the intended message). To be considered an ADA-compliant facility, these specific signage requirements must be met, and .
Relevant ADA Requirements for Floor Markings
Because floor markings inherently fall short of ADA requirements for height and placement, they cannot be used to meet compliance standards. However, you can use heavy-duty floor markers, tape, and signs to supplement primary wayfinding and safety messages to create a more inclusive space. For optimal accessibility, design floor markings according to relevant guidelines for ADA-compliant signage.¹
- Color: ADA does not outline specific color standards for compliant signage, but it does emphasize contrast and readability. When creating ADA-compliant wayfinding signage, ensure maximum contrast by using light text and graphics against a dark background, or dark graphics and text against a light background. A sign’s color should be distinct from its surroundings so it is clearly visible.
- Font: The ADA provides guidelines for ensuring text can be read by those with visual impairments. Choose simple, sans-serif fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, or Calibri. To avoid overcrowding, letters and words should be evenly spaced and formatted in upper- and lowercase so that they are easily legible.
- Finish: Glare and reflection can hinder the legibility of a sign, so choose products without glossy finishes or reflective properties to ensure they’re easily readable for everyone. If reflective tape is required in an area—for example, to draw attention to a hazard—supplement with matte signs that meet accessibility needs.
Does ADA-Compliant Signage Require Braille?
Tactile signs feature both braille and raised letters that can be read by those with visual impairments. ADA requires tactile braille signs to identify permanent rooms and spaces, for directional purposes, and to label specific areas people may need to access, such as exits, bathrooms, stairs, or elevators. Note that engraved letters are not considered tactile, and to be considered a tactile sign the letters must instead be raised.
Other Things to Consider for Accessible Floor Signs and Tape
The guidelines set forth by the ADA represent only a portion of true accessibility. When installing floor markings to supplement compliant signage, consider the following factors to make your space as inclusive as possible.
- Trip and Fall Potential: ADA 302.1 requires that walking surfaces are “stable and slip resistant,” and any floor markings must not impede the surface’s anti-slip nature.² The benefits of Superior Mark™ floor signs include beveled edges, so they are easy to pass over with wheelchairs and other accessibility devices and are less likely to wear in a way that will create a hazard. Anti-skid tape can helps people step securely, especially on slippery surfaces.
- Location and Placement: Floor markings and signs should be applied in locations that are relevant to the message. Their placement should not introduce confusion or create an obstacle to the area’s accessibility.
- Material and Durability Factors: Signage installed in public spaces should be strong enough to stand up to the anticipated use and traffic. Wall signs should be made from durable, easy-to-clean materials to account for the potential of vandalism, dirty hands, and regular touching. Floor tape and signs will undergo heavy foot traffic, so they should also be easy to clean and simple to remove or replace when damaged or dirty.
- Language: Use clear, easy-to-understand language to communicate your intended message. For optimal accessibility and legibility, supplement your messages with universal symbols that are universally understood. Many Superior Mark™ products can be customized to display the text, pictograms, or symbols you need.
ADA Signage Requirements for Specific Applications
Specific applications require certain ADA accommodations. Consider these examples and how floor markings can reinforce other similar safety messages.
- Emergency Exits and Means of Egress: All exit doors, including doors to enclosed egress stairways and those leading outside, must be marked with a tactile label in addition to other OSHA-mandated signage. Mark the interior of egress stairway enclosures with tactile signs indicating the floor level and other pertinent information. For an extra step, supplement required signage with floor arrows and tape that directs all individuals along the path of egress toward the final exit door, which you can identify with a pre-cut kit that outlines necessary clearance.
- Restrooms & Other Accessible Facilities: Signage for ADA-compliant restrooms, elevators, entrances, and other areas must include the international symbol of accessibility (ISA). Any directional signage that guides individuals to those locations must be similarly marked. Use custom floor tape and signage to adequately communicate that information. In rooms or spaces that make available TTY or assisted listening systems, also display relevant accessibility symbols.
- Accessible Routes: According to the ADA, accessible routes must be clearly marked and must remain unobstructed. Floor markings are ideal for supporting these objectives: Use floor signs to label the route, then apply tape to mark the boundaries of keep-clear areas. A color-coded approach to organization can clear up clutter and keep everything in its place, minimizing the likelihood of obstacles along an accessible path.
When designing a public or commercial facility, consider how pairing ADA-required signage with additional approaches to accessibility can make your space more inclusive. Use floor marking products to reinforce required messages and improve safety and convenience across the entire facility. For more on improving safety in public spaces and industrial workspaces, explore our Resource Center.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only. Please refer to ADA Standards for Accessible Designs for specific requirements and additional information.