It may come as a surprise, but not every ADA sign needs to include a pictogram. There is actually a lot of flexibility when it comes to ADA signs and the design of the pictogram.
What is a pictogram?
Pictogram is the term used in the signage world. A pictogram is an image that easily identified as the physical object which it is representing. It can also be called an icon, drawing, or symbol. The goal of a pictogram is to be easily recognized.
There are 3 pictogram categories:
1. Pictograms are required on signs that assist people with disabilities.
Signs that provides direction to accessible permanent rooms and spaces require pictograms. This is most commonly seen for wheelchair accessible restrooms. The International Symbol of Accessibility, International Symbol of TTY, Volume Control Telephone, and Assistive Listening Systems are recognized worldwide and are part of the Internal Organization for Standardization (ISO, a national group representing a single design standard.
|International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA)||Anything that is wheelchair accessible- |
This includes restrooms, entrances, exit routes, stations
|International Symbol of TTY||A public teletypewriter, allow the hearing impaired to type messages instead of talking.|
|Volume Control Telephone||An amplified telephone, allows hearing impaired to have a clearer conversion over the phone|
|Assistive Listening System||A device that amplifies sound directly into the ear, allows for better hearing|
2. Pictograms are recommended on signs that identify permanent rooms and spaces.
Signs which identify a room are advised to include pictograms; they are most commonly seen on restrooms. Though they may not be required, it’s nice to be able to quickly identify a restroom, and it’s important to remember that not everyone reads English.
|All Gender Restroom||Shop Now|
|Boy’s Restroom||Shop Now|
|Family Restroom||Shop Now|
|Gender Neutral Restroom||Shop Now|
|Girl’s Restroom||Shop Now|
|Men’s Restroom||Shop Now|
|Unisex Restroom||Shop Now|
|Women’s Restroom||Shop Now|
Always remember to check for variances in your state and local code to make sure that you are meeting their requirements. A great example is California, which requires two signs to identify a restroom, check out The Mystery of California Title 24 Restroom Doors Signs.
3. Pictograms are optional on all other signs.
These pictograms do not fall into the ADA standards (pictograms which serve the disabled), but local codes (state, fire, building) may require them. Since these signs are not part of the ADA standard they do not require text or the minimum space that the required and recommend pictograms do.
baby changing area
no cell phones
in case of fire
It is always an option to include tactile and braille on these signs, and it might be required by your local building code.
Did you know there is a minimum space required for pictograms?
There are minimum spacing rules which apply to required and recommended pictograms. These must be in their own space at least 6″ high… but there is no rule regarding the size of the pictograms.