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Bathroom Signs: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are All-Gender Restroom Signs?

A.

Signs that mark restrooms for everyone on the gender spectrum are called All-Gender Restroom Signs . These signs are not just for females or males but everyone, including the LGBT community who are not comfortable using either the female or the male restroom. These signs use the symbol of a toilet seat instead of a men’s or a woman’s pictogram so that there is no categorization involved. Cities like Seattle, Berkeley, Santa Fe, Austin, and Philadelphia have already passed laws requiring single-user all-gender restrooms.

Q. Is there an official size requirement for Bathroom signage?

A.

No, there is no official size requirement for bathroom signage in general. ADA, however, does have requirements for height and placement of ADA-compliant Braille and tactile signage.

You can choose your sign’s size depending upon the amount of text and spaces, text size, and readability distance. For example, a sign with a maximum of 20 characters per line and a character height of 7/8 of an inch will, according to the ADA’s sign design calculations, need to be at least 16 inches long. And a two-lined sign with characters 1.25-inches tall will need to be at least 6 inches tall.

Q. What are the mounting height requirements for Braille Bathroom Signs?

A.

Braille Bathroom Signs must be mounted at a height where people can easily see and touch; when these are installed near the bathroom it is being used on. According to the 2010 ADA standard (ANSI A117.1 - 2003), ADA compliant restroom signs must be mounted at such a height that the tactile characters are between 48 and 60 inches measured from the finished floor to the bottom line of text.

Q. Which states require the new accessibility symbol on bathroom signs?

A.

New York and Connecticut require accessible facilities to be identified using the Dynamic Accessibility symbol. The new symbol depicts a wheelchair user leaning forward pushing their chair. However, U.S. Access Board says that the traditional International Symbol of Access must be used even where a state or local code or regulation specifies a different symbol.

Q. Are pictograms/symbols required on restroom signs?

A.

Only the wheelchair symbol, also known as the International Symbol of Access (ISA), is “required” by ADA to mark wheelchair-accessible restrooms.

Other pictograms/symbols are not “required” but “recommended” on signs that identify a permanent room like restrooms. In the case of restrooms, people expect to see a pictogram and decide whether it’s a men’s, women’s, unisex, family, or an all-gender/gender-neutral facility. Pictograms are helpful in quick identification of the room, especially if the restroom users are non-English speakers.

Q. Where should bathroom signs be placed?

A.

Bathroom Signs can be placed beside the door, on the door, or overhead. While some states require only one bathroom sign for their bathrooms, others, like California, require two signs.

Q. What does The Equal Restroom Access Act state?

A.

The Equal Restroom Access Act is a law in California that requires some establishments with single-occupancy restrooms to be marked with signs that identify the restroom as gender-neutral. Such restrooms in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or state or local government agency have "to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities" and that the signs used to designate these toilet facilities must comply with Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations.

Q. What are the federal standards for Restroom Signs?

A.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal civil rights law that protects people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. ADA sets various requirements for designing bathroom signage.

Out of the many specifications set for ADA-compliant restroom signage , the following are some of the major elements: 

  • - Height: The wall signs must be mounted between 48 and 60 inches above the finished floor surface measured to the base of the lowest braille text.
  • - Placement: The sign must be located on a wall adjacent to the latch side of the door.
  • - Tactile Text: Restroom Signs must have tactile text denoting the gender access to the restroom (men, women, family, or “restroom” [for unisex]).
  • - ISA: Accessible restroom signs must include the international symbol of accessibility.
  • - Braille: The exact Braille translation must be located directly below the tactile text.
  • - It is recommended that signs may have a pictogram depicting gender access on the sign. The pictogram does not necessarily be tactile.

Q. Do federal standards for restroom signage overpower state requirements?

A.

States can have similar or different laws on bathroom signage; however, states must adhere to federal standards when it comes to ADA sign requirements, despite what additional requirements they may set for their signage.

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