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Despite what people think, The American Disabilities Act is not a new thing. First signed into law in 1990, facilities managers have had over 30 years to address their buildings to better accommodate people with disabilities. While ADA continues to be an ongoing process, signage is a cost effective and meaningful way to provide access to those who need it most.
Mackenna Moralez, associate editor of FacilitiesNet recently spoke with Joan Stein, president of Stein Consulting to discuss how facilities managers can stay up to date on the latest ADA regulations and how they can better improve their signage.
FacilitiesNet: What is the significance of ADA signage in a facility?
Joan Stein: Signage is a critical and cost-effective method to enhance ADA compliance in any facility. For purposes of ADA, it is meant to identity permanent rooms and spaces and in doing so, communicates effectively to persons with limited vision or who are blind, as well as persons for whom English is not their first language.
FacilitiesNet: Can you provide an overview of the different types of ADA signs that are required in a facility?
Stein: Exterior signage includes parking and access aisles and entrances. Interior signage includes permanent rooms and spaces, elevators and directional signage (particularly to accessible spaces). Anywhere there is writing (i.e., names of rooms or people’s names), there must be Braille and raised characters. That is also true at rest rooms and elevators. Wherever there is print, it must be accompanied by raised characters and Braille.
FacilitiesNet: How do you ensure that the ADA signage in a facility is compliant and up-to-date with the latest regulations?
Stein: As a federal law/regulation, there have been no updates since the 2010 ADA Standards. It is important to completely vet the signage – many sign companies or vendors may say that their signage is ADA compliant, but that may not be accurate. Items that are manufactured have to Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Additionally, you must make sure that if you place a sign at the entrance to a rest room that has the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA), that the restroom and ALL relevant components, are truly accessible. Otherwise, it is false advertising and can really trigger an ADA complaint/
FacilitiesNet: How often should a facilities manager perform an ADA sign audit to ensure that all required signs are in place and compliant?
Stein: That should be included in regularly scheduled reviews. Exterior signs (at parking spaces) are typically most vulnerable to theft or vandalism.
FacilitiesNet: How can a manager ensure that non-ADA signs do not interfere or obstruct the visibility of ADA signage?
Stein: Employees or vendors should not be permitted to mount any signage that would obstruct or block full view of ADA signage. Additionally, outdoor foliage needs to be trilled to prevent it from overgrowing and blocking signage.
FacilitiesNet: How should facilities managers train their staff and employees to properly use and maintain ADA signage in the facility?
Stein: Employees (other than facility staff) should not have any involvement with ADA signage. Again, they should be trained to not place anything that would block or obstruct full view.
Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor of the facilities market.
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