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The Mystery of California Title 24 Restroom Door Signs

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the Federal Rules and Regulations of ADA Restroom signs. This week we want to get into California State-specific regulations, Chapter 11B, section 07 of the California Building Code, and help ensure you are compliant in the Golden State. Specifically, why you need to also have a CA Title 24 Restroom Door Sign in addition to a  wall mounted Braille restroom sign.

California requires two signs to identify restrooms to the public… but why?  Well, there’s actually a story to the rules that had good intentions as well as grand ideas and enough bureaucratic inertia to keep everything confusing and almost silly.

Prior to the passage of the ADA

A man named Sam Genensky (partially blind himself) set out to make restrooms easily identifiable to those with limited vision. His idea was to use large geometric shapes with edges thick enough to be felt by those with no usable vision, and to be easily seen, even from a distance, by those with limited vision and people with cognitive disabilities.

A twelve-inch diameter circle identified a girls’ or women’s restroom, and a twelve-inch equilateral triangle identified a boys’ or men’s restroom. A triangle placed on a circle was used to identify a single user restroom available to either sex.

The color of the shapes had to contrast with the door on which they were placed.

It’s the shape that matters for the CA Title 24 Restroom Door Signs

No pictograms or text were required, though many designers added pictograms for men or women, some with text. With the passage of accessibility standards, Braille was sometimes added. This simple and clear system of symbols was a successful first stab at making restrooms accessible to everyone. Many people who were legally blind were trained to recognize these symbols, and spared the embarrassment of walking into the “wrong” restroom.

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When the Federal Government adopted their regulations into law, California made the decision to adopt the Federal ADA signage laws, as well as keep their original signage laws. The code body in California briefly considered eliminating the requirement for the geometric signs. After all, the wall sign now required by the federal guidelines offered the same information in both visual and tactile format. Why have two signs?

The disability community responded with anger. They wanted their circles and triangles! They were used to them, they were unique to California, and they spoke of California’s proud history of pioneer effort in the field of disabled access. The signs stayed, and that’s how California came to require multiple signs for each restroom. That is why you need the Ca Title 24 Restroom Door Sign and a Wall-Mounting sign that includes braille and tactile!


In California, there must be the appropriate identification of public restrooms, showrooms, bathrooms, and locker rooms with restrooms inside. These identifications must include:

  • A tactile wall sign marked with text alongside the entry, with tactile copy and California spaced, grade 2 braille; an optional pictogram placed in a 6″ field directly above the copy; an ISA symbol if the restroom is accessible
  • A door-mounted Geometric Symbol is specific to California:
    • Female Restrooms the signage must be a circle, 12″ in diameter, and 1/4″ thick;
    • Male Restrooms the signage must be a 12″ equilateral triangle, and 1/4″ thick;
    • For Single Use or Family Restrooms, the sign must be a 1/4″ thick triangle, superimposed on a 1/4″ thick circle that is 12″ in diameter.
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What if the restroom is not wheelchair accessible?

If the restroom is not wheelchair accessible, place an informational or directional sign near the restroom to direct persons with disabilities to the nearest accessible restroom.

For single-user restrooms:

  • Male or female geometric signs must be replaced with unisex geometric signs.
  • Tactile copy must indicate all-gender, unisex, or restroom; there should be non-gender-specific references.

Next time you use a public restroom in California, check out the signage and think about all the decisions that went into those identifying pieces. As always, if you have any questions or just want to talk about bathroom signs with people who don’t think it’s weird, contact us at Alpha Dog ADA Signs.