There are many specifications that signs must meet to be considered ADA compliant. One of the most important things to consider is your choice of font. If the font is difficult to read, visitors may have trouble navigating the building or finding the information they need. Additionally, failure to meet ADA compliance can lead to significant fines and lawsuits.
Rules for ADA-Compliant Fonts
Since ADA signs are designed to be accessible for visually impaired people, the Americans with Disabilities Act has established strict guidelines regarding font style, size, and height. It is important to follow these criteria in order to be considered ADA-compliant.
The guidelines for ADA-compliant fonts include:
- Case- Characters must be uppercase.
- Style- Characters must be sans serif. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.
- Character Proportions- Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter “O” is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter “I.”
- Character Height- Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 5/8 inch (16 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter “I.”
- Stroke Thickness- The stroke thickness of the uppercase letter “I” shall be 15 percent maximum of the character’s height.
- Character Spacing- Character spacing should be measured between the two closest points of adjacent raised characters within a message, excluding word spaces. Where characters have rectangular cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum. Where characters have other cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the base of the cross sections, and 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the top of the cross sections. Characters shall be separated from raised borders and decorative elements at a minimum of 3/8 inch (9.5 mm).
- Line Spacing- Spacing between the baselines of separate lines of raised characters within a message shall be 135 percent minimum and 170 percent maximum of the raised character height.
While the ADA has published these font guidelines for ADA-compliance, they don’t provide a definitive list of approved fonts. Here is an unofficial list of recommended and commonly used fonts approved for ADA signage:
- Century Gothic
- Franklin Gothic
- Frutiger LT
- Futura Std
- Gill Sans Std
- Myriad Pro
- Swis 721 BT
- Trebuchet MS
ALTIUS Graphics is Here to Help
It is important to familiarize yourself with ADA guidelines to ensure your signs are considered ADA-compliant. Failure to follow these guidelines can lead to legal issues regarding non-compliance. Despite all of the complex restrictions, it is still possible to create stunning looking signs that meet the requirements. If you’re still confused or have any questions about the process of creating ADA signage, ALTIUS Graphics is here to help.