Q. Do all the signs need braille?
A. No, because people who can't see at all would not have any way to find most of the signs. Besides that, some signs would be too high for them to reach, or too far away and behind some kind of obstacle like a counter.
The only signs that require braille are signs that are located at doors that they identify, or the signs that label elevator buttons or floor levels.
Q. What is the purpose of the raised letters and numbers on signs?
A. Those are for the majority of people who aren't able to see to read, because the majority of them don't read braille. If you become blind suddenly, or become blind when you are fairly old, you probably won't be able to learn braille, or at least learn it very quickly, and you are usually familiar with the shapes of letters and numbers.
Q. If people who are blind can't read the directional signs, how do they find their way around in strange buildings?
A. The majority of people who are legally blind do have some usable vision. If you use all the rules for visual signs, such as the rules for good contrast between the letters and the background of the sign, and make the signs large enough, with a non-glare finish, many legally blind people can read them. We know that many people like some kind of audible directional information, and luckily, most people who travel independently now do have smart phones and there are an increasing number of programs they can use for audible wayfinding. However, it's still a problem for many blind people and we search for good answers all the time. Of course people who are blind and travel independently have developed many ways of doing so over the years, without using signs.
Q. Does the government have an approved list of fonts to use for ADA signs?
A. No, but there are a few major rules to help you choose compliant fonts. First, always use sans serif uppercase fonts for all raised letters and numbers (which the rules call "characters"). For visual signs (with flat characters) it's best to use upper and lower case, which is legal, and you can use a serif font if you wish. However, never use what we call a "decorative" font. There are other rules as well. The easiest way to know if a font is correct is to use one of our templates, and print out a one inch "I" and a one inch "O" in the font you want to use, and check it. To find the templates, you can go to this page on our site.