Braille in Public Buildings

A few years ago I was asked to review the braille signage in a downtown office building. There had been complaints from visitors about errors in the braille, and the owners wanted to be sure everything was up to standard. The biggest challenge was the numerous elevator banks in this tall structure.

Most of the braille errors made sense if you considered the signs were done years ago by sign-makers who relied on specialized equipment to produce the signs, but did not read braille themselves. Braille has its nuances, exceptions and rules of usage.

One sign had me puzzled. It made no sense whatsoever. As I was driving home, I saw that braille sign clearly in my mind’s eye, and I burst out laughing. It had been installed upside down!

reading an ADA braille sign

A friend reads an ADA-mandated braille sign

With the advent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, special signage has improved in quality and quantity. The ADA addresses discrimination in employment situations and public accommodation for people with special needs.

Typically the sign includes internationally recognized tactile picture symbols, braille, easy-to-read large print tactile typeface, non-glare surfaces, and high light and dark contrast. There are guidelines for all of this, as well as for placement of the signs on the wall

Spot Public Braille and get a Free Braille Alphabet Card

Now that you are aware of these special signs, you will begin noticing them in many places: elevators, restrooms ATMs, tactile floor plans. Use the comment feature below this article to let us know what you find. Everyone who responds with a list of public places where he/she has spotted braille signage will receive a free braille alphabet card.

To protect your privacy, please don’t post your mailing address in the comment. Do remember check your email address for accuracy. I’ll email soon to ask for a mailing address.

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