CHAPTER 7: COMMUNICATION ELEMENTS AND FEATURES
Fire alarm systems shall have permanently installed audible and visible alarms complying with NFPA 72 (1999 or 2002 edition) (incorporated by reference, see "Referenced Standards" in Chapter 1), except that the maximum allowable sound level of audible notification appliances complying with section 4-3.2.1 of NFPA 72 (1999 edition) shall have a sound level no more than 110 dB at the minimum hearing distance from the audible appliance. In addition, alarms in guest rooms required to provide communication features shall comply with sections 4-3 and 4-4 of NFPA 72 (1999 edition) or sections 7.4 and 7.5 of NFPA 72 (2002 edition).
EXCEPTION: Fire alarm systems in medical care facilities shall be permitted to be provided in accordance with industry practice.
Signs shall comply with 703. Where both visual and tactile characters are required, either one sign with both visual and tactile characters, or two separate signs, one with visual, and one with tactile characters, shall be provided.
Raised characters shall be 1/32 inch (0.8 mm) minimum above their background.
Characters shall be uppercase.
Characters shall be sans serif. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.
Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter "O" is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter "I".
Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 5/8 inch (16 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter "I".
EXCEPTION: Where separate raised and visual characters with the same information are provided, raised character height shall be permitted to be 1/2 inch (13 mm) minimum.
Stroke thickness of the uppercase letter "I" shall be 15 percent maximum of the height of the character.
Character spacing shall be measured between the two closest points of adjacent raised characters within a message, excluding word spaces. Where characters have rectangular cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum. Where characters have other cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the base of the cross sections, and 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum at the top of the cross sections. Characters shall be separated from raised borders and decorative elements 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) minimum.
Spacing between the baselines of separate lines of raised characters within a message shall be 135 percent minimum and 170 percent maximum of the raised character height.
Braille dots shall have a domed or rounded shape and shall comply with Table 703.3.1. The indication of an uppercase letter or letters shall only be used before the first word of sentences, proper nouns and names, individual letters of the alphabet, initials, and acronyms.
Table 703.3.1 Braille Dimensions
Minimum in Inches
Dot base diameter
0.059 (1.5 mm) to 0.063 (1.6 mm)
Distance between two dots in the same cell¹
0.090 (2.3 mm) to 0.100 (2.5 mm)
Distance between corresponding dots in adjacent cells¹
0.241 (6.1mm) to 0.300 (7.6mm)
0.025 (0.6mm) to 0.037 (0.9mm)
Distance between corresponding dots from one cell directly below¹
0.395 (10 mm) to 0.400 (10.2 mm)
1Measured center to center.
Braille shall be positioned below the corresponding text. If text is multi-lined, braille shall be placed below the entire text. Braille shall be separated 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) minimum from any other tactile characters and 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) minimum from raised borders and decorative elements.
EXCEPTION: Braille provided on elevator car controls shall be separated 3/16 inch (4.8 mm) minimum and shall be located either directly below or adjacent to the corresponding raised characters or symbols.
Signs with tactile characters shall comply with 703.4.
Tactile characters on signs shall be located 48 inches (1220 mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured from the baseline of the lowest tactile character and 60 inches (1525 mm) maximum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured from the baseline of the highest tactile character.
EXCEPTION: Tactile characters for elevator car controls shall not be required to comply with 703.4.1.
ETA Editor’s Note:
This figure is incorrect in showing Braille characters below the 48” minimum allowed for tactile characters.
Where a tactile sign is provided at a door, the sign shall be located alongside the door at the latch side. Where a tactile sign is provided at double doors with one active leaf, the sign shall be located on the inactive leaf. Where a tactile sign is provided at double doors with two active leafs, the sign shall be located to the right of the right hand door. Where there is no wall space at the latch side of a single door or at the right side of double doors, signs shall be located on the nearest adjacent wall. Signs containing tactile characters shall be located so that a clear floor space of 18 inches (455 mm) minimum by 18 inches (455 mm) minimum, centered on the tactile characters, is provided beyond the arc of any door swing between the closed position and 45 degree open position.
EXCEPTION: Signs with tactile characters shall be permitted on the push side of doors with closers and without hold-open devices.
Visual characters shall comply with 703.5.
Characters and their background shall have a non-glare finish. Characters shall contrast with their background with either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background.
Characters shall be uppercase or lowercase or a combination of both.
Characters shall be conventional in form. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.
Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter "O" is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter "I".
Minimum character height shall comply with Table 703.5.5. Viewing distance shall be measured as the horizontal distance between the character and an obstruction preventing further approach towards the sign. Character height shall be based on the uppercase letter "I".
|Height to Finish Floor or Ground From Baseline of Character||Horizontal Viewing Distance||Minimum Character Height|
|40 Inches (1015 mm to less than or equal to 70 inches (1780 mm)||
less than 72 inches (1830 mm)
|5/8 inch (16 mm)|
|40 Inches (1015 mm to less than or equal to 70 inches (1780 mm)||72 inches (1830 mm) and greater||5/8 inch (16 mm), plus 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) per foot (305 mm) or viewing distance above 72 inches (1830 mm)|
|Greater than 70 inches (1780 mm) to less than or equal to 120 inches (3050 mm)||less than 180 inches (4570 mm)||2 inches (51 mm)|
|Greater than 70 inches (1780 mm) to less than or equal to 120 inches (3050 mm)||180 inches (4570 mm) and greater||2 inches (51 mm), plus 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) per foot (305 mm) of viewing distance above 180 inches (4570 mm)|
|Greater than 120 inches (3050 mm)||less than 21 feet (6400 mm)||3 inches (75 mm)|
|Greater than 120 inches (3050 mm)||21 feet (6400 mm) and greater||3 inches (75 mm), plus 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) per foot (305 mm) of viewing distance above 21 feet (6400 mm)|
Visual characters shall be 40 inches (1015 mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground.
EXCEPTION: Visual characters indicating elevator car controls shall not be required to comply with 703.5.6.
Stroke thickness of the uppercase letter "I" shall be 10 percent minimum and 30 percent maximum of the height of the character.
Character spacing shall be measured between the two closest points of adjacent characters, excluding word spaces. Spacing between individual characters shall be 10 percent minimum and 35 percent maximum of character height.
Spacing between the baselines of separate lines of characters within a message shall be 135 percent minimum and 170 percent maximum of the character height.
Pictograms shall comply with 703.6.
Pictograms shall have a field height of 6 inches (150 mm) minimum. Characters and braille shall not be located in the pictogram field.
Pictograms and their field shall have a non-glare finish. Pictograms shall contrast with their field with either a light pictogram on a dark field or a dark pictogram on a light field.
Symbols of accessibility shall comply with 703.7.
Symbols of accessibility and their background shall have a non-glare finish. Symbols of accessibility shall contrast with their background with either a light symbol on a dark background or a dark symbol on a light background.
The International Symbol of Accessibility shall comply with Figure 703.7.2.1.
The International Symbol of TTY shall comply with Figure 703.7.2.2.
Telephones with a volume control shall be identified by a pictogram of a telephone handset with radiating sound waves on a square field such as shown in Figure 703.7.2.3.
Assistive listening systems shall be identified by the International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss complying with Figure 703.7.2.4.
Wheelchair accessible telephones shall comply with 704.2.
A clear floor or ground space complying with 305 shall be provided. The clear floor or ground space shall not be obstructed by bases, enclosures, or seats.
Where a parallel approach is provided, the distance from the edge of the telephone enclosure to the face of the telephone unit shall be 10 inches (255 mm) maximum.
Where a forward approach is provided, the distance from the front edge of a counter within the telephone enclosure to the face of the telephone unit shall be 20 inches (510 mm) maximum.
Operable parts shall comply with 309. Telephones shall have push-button controls where such service is available.
Telephone directories, where provided, shall be located in accordance with 309.
The cord from the telephone to the handset shall be 29 inches (735 mm) long minimum.
Public telephones required to have volume controls shall be equipped with a receive volume control that provides a gain adjustable up to 20 dB minimum. For incremental volume control, provide at least one intermediate step of 12 dB of gain minimum. An automatic reset shall be provided.
TTYs required at a public pay telephone shall be permanently affixed within, or adjacent to, the telephone enclosure. Where an acoustic coupler is used, the telephone cord shall be sufficiently long to allow connection of the TTY and the telephone receiver.
When in use, the touch surface of TTY keypads shall be 34 inches (865 mm) minimum above the finish floor.
EXCEPTION: Where seats are provided, TTYs shall not be required to comply with 704.4.1.
Advisory 704.4.1 Height. A telephone with a TTY installed underneath cannot also be a wheelchair accessible telephone because the required 34 inches (865 mm) minimum keypad height can causes the highest operable part of the telephone, usually the coin slot, to exceed the maximum permitted side and forward reach ranges. (See Section 308).
Advisory 704.4.1 Height Exception. While seats are not required at TTYs, reading and typing at a TTY is more suited to sitting than standing. Facilities that often provide seats at TTY's include, but are not limited to, airports and other passenger terminals or stations, courts, art galleries, and convention centers.
Public pay telephones required to accommodate portable TTYs shall be equipped with a shelf and an electrical outlet within or adjacent to the telephone enclosure. The telephone handset shall be capable of being placed flush on the surface of the shelf. The shelf shall be capable of accommodating a TTY and shall have 6 inches (150 mm) minimum vertical clearance above the area where the TTY is to be placed.
Detectable warnings shall consist of a surface of truncated domes and shall comply with 705.
Truncated domes in a detectable warning surface shall have a base diameter of 0.9 inch (23 mm) minimum and 1.4 inches (36 mm) maximum, a top diameter of 50 percent of the base diameter minimum to 65 percent of the base diameter maximum, and a height of 0.2 inch (5.1 mm).
Truncated domes in a detectable warning surface shall have a center-to-center spacing of 1.6 inches (41 mm) minimum and 2.4 inches (61 mm) maximum, and a base-to-base spacing of 0.65 inch (17 mm) minimum, measured between the most adjacent domes on a square grid.
Detectable warning surfaces shall contrast visually with adjacent walking surfaces either light-on-dark, or dark-on-light.
Detectable warning surfaces at platform boarding edges shall be 24 inches (610 mm) wide and shall extend the full length of the public use areas of the platform.
Assistive listening systems required in assembly areas shall comply with 706.
Advisory 706.1 General. Assistive listening systems are generally categorized by their mode of transmission. There are hard-wired systems and three types of wireless systems: induction loop, infrared, and FM radio transmission. Each has different advantages and disadvantages that can help determine which system is best for a given application. For example, an FM system may be better than an infrared system in some open-air assemblies since infrared signals are less effective in sunlight. On the other hand, an infrared system is typically a better choice than an FM system where confidential transmission is important because it will be contained within a given space.
Advisory 706.1 General (Continued). The technical standards for assistive listening systems describe minimum performance levels for volume, interference, and distortion. Sound pressure levels (SPL), expressed in decibels, measure output sound volume. Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR or S/N), also expressed in decibels, represents the relationship between the loudness of a desired sound (the signal) and the background noise in a space or piece of equipment. The higher the SNR, the more intelligible the signal. The peak clipping level limits the distortion in signal output produced when high-volume sound waves are manipulated to serve assistive listening devices.
Selecting or specifying an effective assistive listening system for a large or complex venue requires assistance from a professional sound engineer. The Access Board has published technical assistance on assistive listening devices and systems.
Receivers required for use with an assistive listening system shall include a 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) standard mono jack.
Receivers required to be hearing-aid compatible shall interface with telecoils in hearing aids through the provision of neckloops.
Assistive listening systems shall be capable of providing a sound pressure level of 110 dB minimum and 118 dB maximum with a dynamic range on the volume control of 50 dB.
The signal-to-noise ratio for internally generated noise in assistive listening systems shall be 18 dB minimum.
Peak clipping shall not exceed 18 dB of clipping relative to the peaks of speech.
Automatic teller machines and fare machines shall comply with 707.
A clear floor or ground space complying with 305 shall be provided.
EXCEPTION: Clear floor or ground space shall not be required at drive-up only automatic teller machines and fare machines.
Operable parts shall comply with 309. Unless a clear or correct key is provided, each operable part shall be able to be differentiated by sound or touch, without activation.
Automatic teller machines shall provide the opportunity for the same degree of privacy of input and output available to all individuals.
ETA Editor’s Note:
The Department of Justice considers the communication-related elements of ATMs to be auxiliary aids and services, rather than structural elements, to which the safe harbor for elements built in compliance with the 1991 standards does not apply. The Department believes that the limitations on the effective communication requirements, i.e., a covered entity does not have to take measures that would result in a fundamental alteration of its program or would cause undue burdens, provide adequate protection to operators of ATMs. (From “Part 36 Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities (as amended by the final rule published on September 15, 2010)).
Machines shall be speech enabled. Operating instructions and orientation, visible transaction prompts, user input verification, error messages, and all displayed information for full use shall be accessible to and independently usable by individuals with vision impairments. Speech shall be delivered through a mechanism that is readily available to all users, including but not limited to, an industry standard connector or a telephone handset. Speech shall be recorded or digitized human, or synthesized.
1. Audible tones shall be permitted instead of speech for visible output that is not displayed for security purposes, including but not limited to, asterisks representing personal identification numbers.
2. Advertisements and other similar information shall not be required to be audible unless they convey information that can be used in the transaction being conducted.
3. Where speech synthesis cannot be supported, dynamic alphabetic output shall not be required to be audible.
Speech shall be capable of being repeated or interrupted. Volume control shall be provided for the speech function.
EXCEPTION: Speech output for any single function shall be permitted to be automatically interrupted when a transaction is selected.
Where receipts are provided, speech output devices shall provide audible balance inquiry information, error messages, and all other information on the printed receipt necessary to complete or verify the transaction.
1. Machine location, date and time of transaction, customer account number, and the machine identifier shall not be required to be audible.
2. Information on printed receipts that duplicates information available on-screen shall not be required to be presented in the form of an audible receipt.
3. Printed copies of bank statements and checks shall not be required to be audible.
Input devices shall comply with 707.6.
At least one tactilely discernible input control shall be provided for each function. Where provided, key surfaces not on active areas of display screens, shall be raised above surrounding surfaces. Where membrane keys are the only method of input, each shall be tactilely discernible from surrounding surfaces and adjacent keys.
Numeric keys shall be arranged in a 12-key ascending or descending telephone keypad layout. The number five key shall be tactilely distinct from the other keys.
Function keys shall comply with 707.6.3.
Function keys shall contrast visually from background surfaces. Characters and symbols on key surfaces shall contrast visually from key surfaces. Visual contrast shall be either light-on-dark or dark-on-light.
EXCEPTION: Tactile symbols required by 707.6.3.2 shall not be required to comply with 707.6.3.1.
Function key surfaces shall have tactile symbols as follows: Enter or Proceed key: raised circle; Clear or Correct key: raised left arrow; Cancel key: raised letter ex; Add Value key: raised plus sign; Decrease Value key: raised minus sign.
The display screen shall comply with 707.7.
EXCEPTION: Drive-up only automatic teller machines and fare machines shall not be required to comply with 707.7.1.
The display screen shall be visible from a point located 40 inches (1015 mm) above the center of the clear floor space in front of the machine.
Characters displayed on the screen shall be in a sans serif font. Characters shall be 3/16 inch (4.8 mm) high minimum based on the uppercase letter "I". Characters shall contrast with their background with either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background.
Braille instructions for initiating the speech mode shall be provided. Braille shall comply with 703.3.
Two-way communication systems shall comply with 708.
The system shall provide both audible and visual signals.
Handset cords, if provided, shall be 29 inches (735 mm) long minimum.
Communications systems between a residential dwelling unit and a site, building, or floor entrance shall comply with 708.4.
The common use or public use system interface shall include the capability of supporting voice and TTY communication with the residential dwelling unit interface.
The residential dwelling unit system interface shall include a telephone jack capable of supporting voice and TTY communication with the common use or public use system interface.