Etched Plaques and Signs: Can These Be ADA Compliant?

BY Rowena Taylor

Etched Plaques and Signs

For those who do not know, signs that are used in specific places need to follow very stringent rules set by the government. These rules can be found in the ADA guidelines found on the site that the government has for this particular thing. With the many rules that need to be followed in order to be compliant, and the penalties that come with non-compliance, the question that some people ask whether etched plaques and signs can be or should be compliant reasonably pops up.

This question is a legitimate one, if you really think about it. This is because of the fact that all signs, especially those that are found indoors, do need to follow a few of these rules. Plaques, on the other hand, need not follow the rules that are made for signage since these are not usually created for use as directional or guiding tools.

So, what rules do signs need to follow? For starters, you need to know where your signs are to be used. Different kinds of signs need to follow different sets of rules. For instance, if you are trying to have etched signs made for rooms that are not likely to change usage anytime soon, then these need to follow signage rules that include the use of tactile letters and Braille translations.

If you are thinking of using etching as your method of marking for your signs, then you should know that raised characters on these signs is a must. You should inform your nameplate maker of the purpose of the signs you are having made in order for them to create the kinds of signs that are compliant with ADA rules. While this medium is seldom used to create signs that are ADA compliant, the signs that are made using such a marking method can actually be made to comply with rules set by the government.

In order for your customized etched signs to be considered compliant by the government, the tactile features on these should be raised and not recessed. This means that a reverse style of etching has to be done, with the surrounding areas of the sign’s message being the one eaten by the mordant and the characters being the ones that are protected from the acid. This should create the raised surface that is needed for these signs.

You should also make sure that the raised parts follow guidelines for the tactile height needed for compliance and that the width of the letters, as well as the height, is also in line with ADA guidelines. The Braille translations is where you might find some difficulty in following ADA rules to a T. These need to be in a domed shape and not just a rounded dot shape, so it might be a good idea to have these made using another technique, like rastering, for instance.

In the end, etched signage that needs to follow ADA rules may be somewhat difficult and labor intensive to create. It might be a good idea to find other means to make the ADA compliant signs that you are having crafted. While etching can be used to create these signs, there are some elements that may be difficult to get right with this method, so other marking methods should probably be considered. If these signs do not need to be ADA compliant however, then etching is a good marking medium to consider.

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