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Rethinking ADA signage standards for low-vision accessibility.

Arditi, Aries.
J Vis; 17(5): 8, 2017 05 01.
Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28510625
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and International Code Council (ICC) standards for accessible buildings and facilities affect design and construction of all new and renovated buildings throughout the United States, and form the basis for compliance with the ADA. While these standards may result in acceptable accessibility for people who are fully blind, they fall far short of what they could and should accomplish for those with low vision. In this article I critique the standards, detailing their lack of evidence base and other shortcomings. I suggest that simply making existing requirements stricter (e.g., by mandating larger letter size or higher contrasts) will not ensure visual accessibility and therefore cannot act as a valid basis for compliance with the law. I propose two remedies. First, requirements for visual characteristics of signs intended to improve access for those with low vision should be expressed not in terms of physical features, such as character height and contrast, but rather in terms of the distance at which a sign can be read by someone with nominally normal (20/20) visual acuity under expected lighting conditions for the installed environment. This would give sign designers greater choice in design parameters but place on them the burden of ensuring legibility. Second, mounting of directional signs, which are critical for effective and efficient wayfinding, should be required to be in consistent and approachable locations so that those with reduced acuity may view them at close distance.