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Guide to the ADA Standards

Visual Signs [ADA Standards §216.3, §216.4.2, §216.4.3]

Signs providing direction to, or information about, interior rooms and spaces must meet visual criteria in the ADA Standards, but are not required to be tactile (§216.3). This requirement applies to information about spaces, such as rules of conduct and evacuation instructions, exit route maps, and directional signs to exits and other elements and spaces.

The ADA Standards specifically apply these requirements to signs providing directions to accessible means of egress required by the IBC (§1007.7 (2003), §1003.2.13.6 (2000). The IBC requires that such signs be provided at elevators serving accessible spaces and those exits that do not provide an accessible means of egress. Other directional egress signs provided, including egress route maps, also must meet requirements for visual signs in the ADA Standards. In addition, the ADA Standards apply the visual criteria to posted instructions in areas of refuge required by the IBC (§216.4.2).

Examples of Signs Required to Meet Visual Criteria Only

Example signs: “EXIT” with directional arrow, “IN CASE OF FIRE USE STAIRS,” with symbol of person using stairs during fire, and posted instructions.

Visual criteria, but not tactile criteria, apply to directional signs, informational 
signs, rules of conduct signs, and posted instructions.


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