Signage accessible to the vision impaired

December 19, 2008

When are raised letters and Braille required on signs?

I recently spoke with an Architect who was trying to resolve this question.   Confusingly, the sign vendor, who shall remain nameless, claimed that only room numbers needed to be raised letters with Braille and that the room name did not require those features.

Before I give the chapter and verse on this, I will make my argument using logic….gasp!

Givens: All of the rooms along a corridor are designated by sequential numbers.  Some of the rooms have a permanent designation such as mechanical room, break room, conference room or autopsy.  Other rooms are offices that have a continuous cycle of gruntled then disgruntled employees passing through the door with changing names and titles.

If only the room numbers are raised with Braille, then the person with a vision impairment will have no idea that they are about to walk into the Autopsy room instead of the Break Room (with disastrous consequences).  If signage is provided for the convenience of the sight dependent, then the same signage should be provided for the vision impaired.

If the argument is made that the signage is not necessary for the vision impaired to use the space and that the numbers alone will suffice, then the same argument can be made for the sighted and the words could be eliminated entirely allowing everyone to use the autopsy room counter to make their sandwiches.

Now the Chapter and Verse from the TAS/ADAAG):

4.1.3 Accessible Buildings: New Construction. Accessible buildings and facilities shall meet the following minimum requirements:

(16) Building Signage:

(a) Signs which designate permanent rooms and spaces shall comply with 4.30.1, 4.30.4, 4.30.5 and 4.30.6.

4.30.1 General.

4.30.4 Raised and Brailled Characters and Pictorial Symbol Signs.

4.30.5 Finish and Contrast.

4.30.6 Mounting Location and Height.

Employee names on office signs are not required to be raised with Braille.

Signs which provide direction to or information about functional spaces are not required to be raised with Braille.