Braille is a tactile writing system used by people who are blind or visually impaired. Named after its creator, Frenchman Luis Braille, all U.S. public venues require ADA compliance and Grade I or II Braille signage. California is the most stringent, passing a state-wide law, requiring CA Grade II Braille. Braille characters are small circular “domes” called cells that contain tiny palpable bumps or tactile raised dots. The number and arrangement of these dots distinguish one character from another. Further, there are three levels of Braille: Grade I – a letter-by-letter transcription used for basic literacy; Grade II – an addition of abbreviations and contractions; and Grade III – various non-standardized personal characters. Grade II is the new standard for today’s Braille signage.
In terms of signage, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 provides specific requirements for certain types of both interior and exterior signage. Character height must be sized according to the viewing distance from which they are to be read, typestyle must be sans serif with contrasting colors, (light characters on a dark background or vice versa), signs must have a non-glare finish, and mounting location and height is specific to the type of sign. Are you ADA compliant? Let us help you make that call.
WHAT’S IN YOUR ADA SIGN
In addition to following strict ADA sign guidelines, Grade II Braille is the industry standard. There are many types of interior signs that require the addition of Braille (raised dots that accompany the tactile text of the sign). Raised letters or numbers with corresponding Braille characters (and sometimes pictograms) are required for many permanent signs, such as restrooms, exit, exit route and room signs, stairways and handicap signs where the public has general access. Each state may also have additional signage requirements for use of Braille. If you are compliant in California, you have met the most rigorous standards in the country…..what’s in your ADA signs?
II BE OR NOT II BE
Grade II Braille was introduced as a space-saving alternative to grade I Braille. In grade II Braille, a cell can represent a shortened form of a word. Many cell combinations have been created to represent common words, making this the most popular of the grades of Braille. There are part-word contractions, which often stand in for common suffixes or prefixes, and whole-word contractions, in which a single cell represents an entire commonly used word. Words may be abbreviated by using a single letter to represent the entire word, using a special symbol to precede either the first or last letter of the word while truncating the rest of the word, using a double-letter contraction such as “bb” or “cc”, or removing most or all of the vowels in a word in order to shorten it. A complex system of styles, rules, and usage has been developed for this grade of Braille which is the standard throughout much of the Country.