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Frequently Asked Questions

 Braille / Engraved Signs

Q. How big should ADA graphics be? Is there a minimum requirement?

ADA graphics should be at least 6" wide and 6" long. Since the signs themselves are usually larger in size, you must consider the size of the actual ADA graphic when you are purchasing an accessible area sign.

Q. What are the OSHA requirements for bathrooms?

Employers must provide a minimum number of toilet facilities, in toilet rooms separate for each sex. These restrooms must be in a sanitary condition, provide hot and cold water (or lukewarm water), soap or another cleansing agent, and either hand dryers or individual hand towels. For more details, see OSHA’s website here. If you need restroom signage, see our restroom signage department!

Q. Are there OSHA or other regulations on how warm or cold our offices must be?

There are no explicit OSHA requirements. OSHA suggests temperatures set between 68-76° F, and humidity levels between 20%-60%, but they are not mandatory. Local law may set additional requirements. For example, the City of Detroit requires that most occupied indoor work areas be heated to at least 65° F. (There are exceptions for work areas that require cold temperatures, and for work areas where the workers are “primarily engaged in strenuous physical activities.”) Check out our cold signage department!

Q. How small can the letters be for a Braille sign? Must we use CAPITAL letters?

The characters must be in capital letters. Here is an excerpt from the ADA rules (section 4.30.4 ): Letters and numerals shall be raised 1/32 in, upper case, sans serif or simple serif type and shall be accompanied with Grade 2 Braille. Raised characters shall be at least 5/8 in (16 mm) high, but no higher than 2 in (50 mm). Pictograms shall be accompanied by the equivalent verbal description placed directly below the pictogram. The border dimension of the pictogram shall be 6 in (152 mm) minimum in height.

Q. I have been looking at the Federal Code regarding interior building signage, and I am confused - this law seems to require that I have a tactile Exit sign in the bathroom. Is this really the case? Do you find that people really install Exit signs in a bathroom? Similarly, do we need tactile Exit signs at our exit doors (that have those illuminated signs)?

In reviewing the federal accessibility and signage codes, it is always important to remember the actual intent of the law. The purpose of an Exit sign is simple: to help you find your way out in an emergency. There are really two kinds of Exit signs, Directional and Doorway.

• Doorway exit signs are posted at actual exits, or stairs or ramps that lead to exits.

• Directional exit signs are posted in hallways or large spaces, and give directions to the nearest exit.

Illuminated or photoluminescent Exit signs which lead to an exit, but not those in a hallway or other directional Exit signs, should be accompanied by a tactile Exit sign. Associate evacuation passageways, stairs, and exit doors with both tactile and visual exit signage. Illuminated or photoluminescent signs marking exit doors should be accompanied by a tactile sign. In hallways or large spaces, other illuminated or photo-luminescent signs that just point to the way out do not need a tactile sign. In a hallway, in fact, a tactile sign may actually confuse a visually impaired person, and leave them thinking that a closet or other interior door along the hallway is an exit.

(1) So, here is the answer to the first question: tactile Exit signs are generally not used for Bathroom doors. In a bathroom, usually the way you came in is the way you will go out. There is not really any reason to put a tactile Exit sign in the restroom – it will only lead to confusion.

(2) Then, let's move onto the question about Doorway exit signs and have a chance to debunk a common bias here: if people who can see well deserve some help finding the correct door ... why not provide the visually impaired the same benefit? Thus, for doorway exit signs, we recommend tactile signage.

Q. I want to put a sign on my Men's restroom. There is a ramp leading from the door down to the floor of the bathroom, which is about 2 feet lower. Should I use the wheelchair graphic in conjunction with a "ramp" graphic, or does it have to be by itself in order to display accessibility and comply with the standards?

You can use the wheelchair graphic in conjunction with a ramp graphic. In fact, we think that it is quite intuitive to do so when it is appropriate. But just remember - use good judgment when deciding what signs to install. We only recommend installing a "wedge" ramp graphic below the wheelchair pictogram when there is actually a ramp in that area. But, there is no regulation about this except that accessible restrooms must display the wheelchair pictogram.

Q. What is California Braille? Is all Grade 2 Braille suitable for California?

California Braille is a spacing and dot height standard which is different from the Library of Congress standard Braille spacing. It has nothing to do with translation or meaning, like the distinction between contracted (Grade 2) versus standard (Grade 1) Braille. All signs are written in Grade 2 Braille. In California, Grade 2 Braille specifications for spacing and height were modified specifically for signs. Designed by a leading expert (who is, in fact, blind), the California spacing was calculated to be easier to read. Beginners and elderly people, who have less training in Braille or less sensitive fingers, could still read the simple text on signs (such as "Male" or "Exit" or "203") and find the right door.

The California Braille standard is legal in 49 other states too. There are no federal regulations on spacing and dot height in conflict with the California standard. All of our ADA signs are made with California Braille, and we strongly recommend using this standard for your signs.

Q. When can we get away with just a standard [non Braille] restroom sign? Does every Men's room sign require the Braille dots? I am ordering signs for our church.

Let me begin by saying that every Men’s room sign does NOT require Braille dots. In some states, religious institutions and private clubs are not regulated by accessibility standards. And, the federal guidelines do not impose any restrictions on these organizations.

Yet, most Men’s restroom signs are now ordered with Braille. Why? The real answer then depends upon your state. In many individual states, California, for example, there are laws which require religious buildings and private clubs to comply with accessibility standards. Most religious institutions want to be as welcoming as they can to everyone. Hence, they are usually ahead of the crowd in providing ADA compliant restrooms and building access, along with the requisite signs.

Another most important factor is the location of your tactile signs. You only need to have a tactile sign at your restroom door. Directional signs that point the way to a restroom do not need to be tactile. But you want to make sure that your directional signs are positioned effectively. They should be in a place where someone will not need to backtrack in order to get to the accessible restroom. So you want to place them at the point where people will decide which way to go – give them the information so that they can make the correct decision instead of guessing.

Q. Do I need to add Braille to my room signs? Is every sign covered?

Please consult the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA) Signage guidelines.

Americans Disabilities Act (ADA) gives a set of guidelines that are intended to make facilities more accessible to the blind and visually impaired. These guidelines cover places of "public accommodations" and "commercial facilities". These are rooms or offices that are accessible to the public. A number of the key aspects of these rules are as follows:

Permanent space signs in areas of Public Access require both tactile lettering and Grade 2 Braille. In practical terms, Room Numbers and Room Name signs are covered under this guideline.

Permanent room signs must be mounted 60" from the floor to the center of the sign on the wall next to the latch side of the door.

Directory signs, signs that tell you how to get around the building, or signs that give you information about permanent features of the building do not require Braille. These signs, however, must still comply with height, finish and contrast rules for lettering and background. These informational signs are not required to have raised letters or Braille.

Not every sign is covered. As we all know, a typical school, hospital, factory, etc, has a maze of signs. Marketing or trade name signs are not covered. In practical terms, safety, industrial marking and notices are not made using tactile letters. General and informational signs are not required to have raised letters or Braille. The primary use, in practice, for tactile signs are found in offices and for permanent room installations.

For more information, read our Guide to Room Signs.

Q. Do you offer "back-engraved" signs"? What are the advantages to this style of engraving?

Yes, we do. Some of our nameplates are back-engraved. Any of our signs can be ordered in this back engraved style. Just call us up and we can arrange to make your sign this way. There might be a small increase in the cost.

Back-engraved signs, to many, look quite professional. The signs seem "polished". For others, back-engraved signs are easier to clean.

Q. Can I use my own type font?

We offer hundreds of fonts. To both simplify and speed up the engraved sign wizards, we just show a few of the common fonts. Yet, please do not hesitate to contact us if you want a special font. We are actually quite "font-crazed" here. We love fonts and know what a difference a font can make to the look of your sign.

Q. Can I add a logo?

You may add a logo to your sign – generally at no charge. Also, make sure to look over our clip art and logo library. We already offer hundreds of logos and graphic images.

Be aware, of course, that not all logos are well-suited to engraving. The logo needs to be clean, have sharp edges. Bit-mapped images are often tough. Remember that a laser or knife is actually cutting into the plastic material and a good deal of fine detail can be lost.

We offer an upload wizard to help you transmit the logo to us. We will convert your logo, in most cases, to a single color. For certain, multi-colored signs, however, full-color logos are possible.

Q. How many lines of text may I add to my sign? Do you charge extra for extra lines of text on the sign?

We do not charge extra for more lines of text (unlike most others in this market). Frankly, it is rather rare that you see the "Gettysburg Address" on a sign. Our laser engravers make fast work of your text. This is the main advantage of our system. Your sign goes directly, and digitally, to our engravers. That saves time, reduces error and keeps costs low.

The number of lines to be used on a sign is really an issue of legibility and not a problem with manufacturing. Adding too many lines means that the type must be smaller and each line harder to decipher. Consider, always, a larger sign if you find that your message becomes small. Our sign wizards use an innovative "shrink-to-fit" technology that can result in important messages become too small. Generally, engraved sign type should be no less than 10 point. There are special engraving stocks, actually, that are made for super-fine type.

Over the last ten years, or so, engraving stock has changed so that the top layer is much thinner (now 5 mil). When compared to the earlier materials (which had a thicker 10-15 mil top layer), the new materials allow for finer engraving and smaller letters on your sign.

Please give us a call if you want to learn more.

Q. I want the engraved sign to be seen from across the hall. How big should the sign and the letters be?

Our "rule-of-thumb" is that each inch of letter height can be seen from 50 feet away. The ANSI sign standard (see both ANSI Z535.2 and A117.1), however, is much more pessimistic. This is based on a ratio of 25 feet per inch of height for the sign message. Much depends upon the size of the building, the angle at which you approach the sign, the lighting and, even, the age and visual acuity of the viewer. An airport, parking garage or convention center needs larger letters than a sign used in a narrow hallway. Also, the headline should be larger – whereas the remaining explanatory text may be smaller. The top row leads you to the sign; once there, you can study the remaining text.

In the sign market, sign legibility is increasingly a "hot button" as our population gets older. Signs read by older individuals need to be bigger and to have better lighting than those read by younger individuals. As vision deteriorates, the letters start to fill in and blur. Recently developed type fonts, however, are designed to have a highly legible lower case alphabet. The research finds that a high X value and letters with a 1:5.7 stroke width to height ratio. The X value of a font is the height of the lower case letter in proportion to the capital letter. Most sans serif type fonts have an x-height that varies from 73% to 75%. Helvetica has an 75% x-height. A serif font, such as Times, has only a 63% x-height. Researchers have found that your eyes scan across the x-heights of the letters when you read a word.

Also see the question from the customer below.

Q. Should I use all capital letters for my sign? Or, should I use upper and lower case letters?

In most cases, we recommend caps or a bolder font for the headline. But, try to use umixed case letters for the rest of the sign. If the sign has a great deal of text, type your legend as it would be seen in a book or article. Too many capital letters becomes confusing.

Note that we read phrases or groups of letters at a time. You read clumps of letters, together, as one shape. Reading individual letters in all capital letters, would slow us down and has been described as how an early child reader proceeds. ("It is like having your lips move when you read.") In a type font, the ascenders and descenders provide important clues. One of the reasons that we do not spot many typographical mistakes is that we do not read letter by letter. Our "expectations" of what is about to be said allows us to speed through the passage. See the sign below. It is not easy to spot the typo.

You may use the capital letter height for readability guidance. The illustration below shows how much more readable the upper and lower case word is than the all caps version having the same "footprint." Both headlines have the same "footprint". Yet, the upper and lower case version is more readable than the all-caps version.

The upper case alphabet has many more straight lines and is far simpler. A well-know typography expert once stated, "capital letters are for tombstones only!"

Q. Do all lines in the sign have to be the same height?

No. In many signs, the first line (or headline) is often larger than the other lines of text. The extra height is used to get attention, or for emphasis. The viewer can then come closer to read the rest of the text.

Q. What type of Braille do you use for your signs?

We use the ADA compliant Grade II Braille. Unlike lower cost engraved signs that route out the Braille symbol (usually Grade I Braille), our ADA signs use the latest in polymer and bead technology to produce ADA compliant signs. Our method is a licensed patented process. The Braille produced is rounded and not flat.


Q. What is a "Wayfinding" sign?

A Wayfinding sign is used to provide directions as you walk though a building. An airport, for example, is replete with wayfinding signs. For sign "insiders" a Wayfinding sign is generally seen as larger sign than a mere room number sign.

Q. How long does it take to get the signs?

Most signs are shipped that same day or on the next day. Most signs are shipped via the post office. For central US locations near to our factory in Texas, USPS takes a 2-3 days. In other locations, the shipments take 3-5 days. For faster service, you may specify air shipment.

 Sign Installation

Q. Do your metal Pull Door signs stay in place? See the photo attached and you can see that our current signs do not last.

Thanks for the photo! These other signs have four main problems.

1. First, the corners of the signs are square. While this makes the sign less expensive to produce (the signs can just be “chop cut” in bulk), the square corners make a sign susceptible to flagging. The square corner is easier to pick off and the most common point of “lift-off” for a sign. Our DiamondPlate™ metal door signs all use rounded corners.

2. The next problem is the sign is laminated with a too-thin plastic film. This is a common problem. The plastic peels off and, in many cases, leaves an adhesive layer that attracts dirt. In contrast, our DiamondPlate™ signs do not have a top laminate. There is no layer to “peel off”.

3. One of the photos from your property shows a badly scratched surface. This occurs when the print on the sign is “on the surface”. Rings, keys, etc. all take their toll. A badly scratched or blemished sign speaks poorly of your facility. Our DiamondPlate™ Push - Pull signs use embedded print; the graphics are locked into the pores of the aluminum itself. It is virtually impossible to scratch off the print.

4. The combination of a sign that is too thick and an adhesive that is too thin, can cause the bending that you see in your photo. Once the sign is bent or deformed, it is very difficult to ever put it back. Our signs, while substantial, are not so thick that they can be picked off easily. We also use the premier adhesive in the market, 3M’s 467 and 468MP. The sign fuses to the door. Once in place, our signs are very, very difficult to remove.

Q. I work at a small store where we are installing a sign on our bathroom. I want to use adhesive tape. But I am wondering how I am supposed to install a sign. Are there any laws about how I am allowed to mount the sign?

In general, adhesive strips or backing are used to mount signs. When a frame is used, the sign is mounted with adhesive to the frame, and the frame is then attached to the wall with screws. In some cases, adhesive is used to attach the frame as well. Our frames come with an "attachment kit." This kit includes both adhesive strips and screws. That way, you can use either technique.

In some facilities (schools for example), tampering and vandalism are concerns. In these cases, we recommend that you mount the sign directly to the wall with screws. Order your sign pre-drilled with holes if you want to use this mounting option.

In other facilities, damage to sensitive walls from the adhesive is a concern. Here, we recommend using a back plate – which then screws into the wall. The sign then adhesively mounts to this back plate, thereby protecting the wall.

In short, there are many options for mounting a sign. They are all legal, and the best choice really depends on your functional and aesthetic requirements.

Q. When should we use a bilingual door sign?

This is one of those questions that really only you can answer. There is no regulation as far as federal or state laws which require or prohibit the use of bilingual signs. But you have to consider the people who will use the facilities when deciding whether or not you want to use a bilingual sign. Is another language the primary conversational language of employees or visitors? Does the area feature Spanish newspapers or radio stations? Are there bilingual schools in the neighborhood? In these cases, you will want to at least consider using a bilingual sign. Another thing to consider with bilingual signs is equality. You want to be sure that the bilingual signs you order do not feature one language much larger than the other. And you want to be sure that they do not offer drastically different messages. Obviously different fonts, colors, and terms are going to make the sign more effective, but the goal is to make both languages equally helpful to users.

Q. I want to be able to change the signs around. The message changes, depending upon the day or service that we provide. What do you recommend?

The lowest cost and simplest solution will be to use our wall brackets. These are suitable for the 2" x 10", 3" x 10" and 4" x 12" signs. For other sizes of engraved signs, choose the Velcro option.

Q. I want my sign to be seen from the outside. But, I do not want the sign to be stolen. Do you have a solution?

Consider ordering an engraved sign along with suction cups. That way, you can fasten the sign to the inside of a window. Also make sure to order your signs with holes at the top to attach suction cups.

Q. What engraved sign material is best outside?

The metallic signs have terrific outdoor life. Many of the acrylic signs also offer good UV and weather resistance. Please call our customer service experts to get specific advice for your particular sign. If you want to use your sign outside, please note this on your order. We will substitute a material that is designed to be used outdoors.