FEBRUARY 6 2003
THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILTIES ACT
3.1. Background and Purpose. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by
Congress in 1990 and was fully implemented in 1992. It is intended to extend civil rights protection
and provide equal accommodations and access for the disabled.
3.2. Compliance. On military installations, any area or building that is used by civilians or the
general public must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines
(ADAAG) or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), whichever is more stringent.
3.3. Scope. This pamphlet is not intended to be a complete guide to the ADA, nor is it a
comprehensive ADA signage document. Base civil engineers and other personnel involved in the
design or construction of the built environment, including signs, are urged to consult the ADAAG
and UFAS for information on all aspects of accessibility. Complete information on sign design is
included in the ADAAG and UFAS. Designers should work with manufacturers and contractors to
ensure that the affected signs comply.
3.4. Accessibility. The general idea of the ADAAG and UFAS is to provide accessible routes to all
accessible spaces within a site or building. Ensure that all new construction and additions or
alterations to existing buildings are accessible. Additions or alterations must never decrease the
accessibility of a facility. In general, any change should be towards greater accessibility.
3.5. Exterior Signs. Although the ADAAG and UFAS apply mostly to interior signs, there are
several types of exterior signs that must also be considered. Accessible routes should be provided
from parking areas, public transportation stops, and public streets or sidewalks to building entrances.
In general, exterior signs that are intended to be read from vehicles are not affected by ADAAG and
UFAS requirements (except for parking signs), while signs that are used by pedestrians are affected.
3.6. Sign Design. The ADAAG
and UFAS impact sign
design in five ways: character proportion,
character height, the use of characters and pictorial symbols, finish and contrast, and mounting
location and height. There are also requirements governing the use of symbols denoting
3.7. Character Legibility. Character legibility results from the relationship
of many factors,
including viewing distance, character height and width, stroke height and width, font style, the
contrast with the background, and surface glare. The ADA requirements are intended to address all
of these concerns so that signs are legible to the widest possible range of people.
3.8. Character Proportion. There are two aspects
of character proportion: the width
to height ratio
of the letter and the width to height ratio of the strokes that form the letter. Both are important for