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Not All ADA Signs Have Braille

Let’s puncture one myth: ADA signs and Braille signs are not synonymous terms.

The only signs that absolutely require raised text and Braille are those that identify rooms and spaces like exit doors, floor levels within stairwells and on elevator hoist way doors, and the labels on elevator control panels. All the wayfinding signs and informational signs as well as exterior signs are visual only.

The 2010 standards also allow dual-purpose signs that give the same message in two ways. You can have a visual sign section that says, “Conference Room 200” and a separate tactile and Braille sign section that says the same thing (like the image above). In this case, the visual section is to the right of the graphic (“Fitness Center” in white bold high contrast text) and the tactile section has no contrast and is actually “hidden” in a shiny silver footer section of the sign. The tactile characters are small, thin, and rounded in shape with clear separations between characters, and are accompanied by braille.

These signs can be one piece, two plaques joined together or adjacent to each other, or completely separate. The tactile sign could be adjacent to the door, and the visual sign could be on the door. Even if you didn’t have the equipment to make the tactile portion of those signs, you could still create the visual portions and purchase the tactile components to complete the system.

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