Quick Guide to Avoid a $75k ADA Fine

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On March 28th, 2014, the U.S Department of Justice released a Final Rule, that would increase the maximum civil penalty for a first violation under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) from $55,000 to $75,000. A second fine could cost you upwards of $150,000! The cost of a civil penalty fine is far greater than the cost to have the correct signage. We’ve compiled a list of the most important ADA Sign rules and regulations to help you avoid that $75k fine.

Download PDF ADA Sign Rules and Regulations Whitepaper 

The best place to start when making sure that your signage is ADA compliant is with the general rules. If you are a public facility….yep, you have to be compliant!  All ADA Signs (Braille, exit signs and restroom signs included) must:

  • Have either 1 sign with both visual and tactile elements; OR 2 signs, one with visual, and one with tactile elements;
  • Have characters and pictogram (if included) that contrasts with the background;
  • Have a non-glare finish

Now on to more of the complex rules and regulations:


hello showing character details 1 : alpha dog ada signs

When it comes to the text on the signs, simple is better. All characters must be UPPERCASE and Sans Serif. No italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or any other unusual text. The text must be 3/8″ from all borders, and a minimum distance of 1/8″ between the two closest points of raised characters.

We said simple is better – and it is – but bigger is not better when it comes to character size. The characters must be between 5/8″ (minimum) and 2″ maximum. The stroke thickness of characters cannot be more than 15% of the height. The width of the characters must be between 55% and 10% of the height of the characters.

All of these restrictions on just the text may sound intense, but here is a short list of ADA Compliant Fonts (in case Helvetica gets too boring):

  • Myriad Pro (used as the standard at Alpha Dog)
  • Futura Medium
  • Frutiger Bold
  • Lucida Demibold
  • Helvetica


Braille must be:

2010 standard braille rquirements 1 1 768×434 1 : alpha dog ada signs


  • Grade 2 and Domed shaped
  • Positioned below the corresponding text
  • if text is multi-lines, place below entire text
  • 3/8″ away from ALL other raised elements




The field height of the pictogram must be 6″. Raised characters and Braille cannot be in the 6″ pictogram field. All of the text descriptions must be located directly below the pictogram.

all gender restroom sign with toilet pictogram sign6x8 1 : alpha dog ada signs

The general sign rules from the beginning of this blog still stand: non-glare finish, contrasting colors, and either 1 visual / tactile sign, or 2 signs paired together.

Lastly, and just as importantly, is the installation of ADA signs (for details on CA bathroom sign installation, see our blog here):

door diagram 1 1 : alpha dog ada signs
  • The baseline of the lowest character must be a minimum of 48″ and a maximum of 60″ from the finished floor or ground
  • The sign must be located along the latch side of the door.
  • If double doors with one active door, place a sign on inactive door.
  • If double doors with two active doors, place to the right of the doors.
  • If there is no wall next to the door for your sign, place it on the nearest adjacent wall.
  • Must be a minimum clear floor space of 18″ x 18″ centered on characters.

This may seem like a lot, and it is! Making sure your signs are ADA Compliant while running a business is stressful work. But it doesn’t have to be. The team here at Alpha Dog ADA Signs, can take care of those ADA details for you!

Learn more about 5 Reasons Why Your Current ADA Signs Are Not ADA Compliant!