Arizona businesses are now much more aware of the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) thanks to a frenzy of lawsuits spearheaded by a local non-profit. Choosing litigation rather than persuasion to advance disability rights does a disservice to the good intentions of the landmark ADA. We ask ,”Why all the acrimony?”
The ADA, in fact, is the most important piece of legislation ever written for people with disabilities. We should celebrate it like a big block party for human rights. The ADA established a prescriptive framework that enabled all these unique and diverse individuals to come out and join us at work, in schools, at church – to fully participate in our community.
The legislation was first passed because despite advancing toward self-reliance, people with disabilities were marginalized by a lack of accessibility. Buildings with stairs provided barriers to engagement in meaningful work. Streets and parking lots with high curbs hampered mobility. Public transportation, telephones, bathrooms and shops were difficult to navigate and use. This changed with a series of laws that eliminated discrimination against people with impairments culminating in the ADA legislation. It capped more than a half-century’s worth of anti-discrimination advocacy and has since become the gold standard internationally for its inclusiveness.
The ADA mandates that businesses provide reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities by using design standards that make places accessible for everyone. They apply to features like designated parking, ramp access, aisle width, assisted listening devices, restrooms, signage and more. Most businesses are happy to meet the standards once they understand the law.
Engaging design professionals certainly makes complying easier. Thinking Caps Design applies ADA standards to signage design for clients by considering the following factors:
- Font Selection: ADA guidelines can specify the case and style of fonts used to identify a room or an office. For legibility, ADA guidelines set standards for character height, spacing between characters and stroke for tactile presentation.
- Pictograms: Pictograms may be required for some identification.
- Material Selection: In some instances, ADA requires selecting a non-glare surface and appropriate contrasting colors between the background and foreground fonts and pictograms.
- Braille Dimensions: ADA guidelines are exacting in their placement of Braille characters in relation to one another and other tactile wording on signs. There is a minimum clearance requirement too.
- Mounting: ADA guidelines address the height at which various sign applications are mounted for visibility.
So remember all the good that’s accomplished by the ADA. By eliminating barriers to accessibility, you help neighbors in our community live fully-engaged and self-directed lives. That’s something to take pride and revel in.