ADA and Braille Signage

signage ADAMaking American Disabilities Act Signage

The Americans with Disabilities Act was created in 1990 with one goal: to prohibit unjustified discrimination based on disability. This act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and also requires accessibility for public accommodations. One aspect of these public accommodations relates directly to sign fabricators, the creation of ADA signage.

ADA signage fabrication can bring a new revenue stream to a sign shop. A simple ADA sign can be created for as little as $3.00. With some creative aspects from rotary or laser engravers, tactile lettering, and Braille beads, that simple sign can be sold for upwards of $90.00. Here, will discuss the ins and outs of ADA sign fabrication and the rules and regulations that apply in the United States.

To create ADA signage, a few different materials are needed:

ADA signage can be created in 5 simple steps. Let’s take a closer look at those steps:

The process begins by using 2 pieces of Gravotac™ plastic with contrasting colors. This example used white and blue Gravotac™. These two pieces of plastic must comply with ADA guidelines. These guidelines state the “profile” material must be exactly 1/32” thick while the “backer” material must be at least 1/16” thick. The adhesive is placed on the profile material and the two pieces of Gravotac™ are sandwiched together. This completes step 1.

Step 2, it is time to use the computer-driven engraving or routing machine. This can be achieved by using either a rotary or laser engraver/cutter. In this step, the operator creates a layout in the software system, Gravostyle™, using a pictogram and all capital letter text at a minimum 5/8” (maximum 2”) height. This layout is then sent to the machine and at a precise depth, the machine cuts out the pictogram and text. In the example, you can see how the profile material has a lined cutout. The precise depth is needed so only the profile material is cut. The backer plate should remain intact.

Step 3 involves removing or weeding away the 1/32” profile material to reveal the final pictogram and letters. Simply peel the profile layer beginning at a corner. The majority of the plastic should easily come off. Special tools may be purchased such as a weeding tool (part number 36409) and cleaning brush (part number 32801) to remove stubborn pieces such as the inside of the letter “O”, “P”, “R”, etc. A tip from the experts: work quickly from step 1 to step 3. By not allowing the adhesive to cure, the two materials separate with ease and minimal residual residue.

Step 4 re-enlists the use of a computer-driven engraving or routing machine to drill the Braille dot pockets to hold the Raster® beads. At this point, the quality and precision of both the machine and software system are key. Let’s explore why.

Braille is made up of cells. Each cell contains six dots; three on the left and three on the right. It is essential that the dots are uniform in size and in the appropriate position in order for the Braille reader to understand the message. One misplaced Raster® bead can change the meaning of a very important message. Gravostyle™ software can accurately translate the braille to help prevent mistakes.

5 steps to create ADA sign

To make sure each message is uniform, you must follow these particular guidelines:

  • Braille is required to be lowercase. The indication of the uppercase letter(s) shall only be used for proper nouns and names, individual letters of alphabet, initials, acronyms or before the first word of sentences.
  • Dot Height: 0.025 - 0.037 inches (0.6 - 0.9 mm)
  • Dot Base Diameter: 0.0590 - 0.063 inches (1.5 - 1.6 mm)
  • Distance between any two dots in same cell, center to center: 0.9 - 0.1 inches (2.3 - 2.5 mm)
  • Distance between corresponding dots in adjacent cells, center to center: 0.241 - 0.3 inches (6.1 - 7.6 mm)
  • Distance between corresponding dots from one cell to the cell directly below, center to center: 0.395 - 0.4 inches (10 - 10.2 mm)

Step 5 is when the Raster® beads are inserted into the Braille pockets that were just created to form the Braille dots. This can be done manually, or automatically by the engraving machine. For a manufacturer who only makes a few signs a year, manually is the less expensive option. However, automatically can save the high volume fabricator valuable time and money. In the automatic option, the machine moves directly over the drilled pockets and inserts the Raster® beads.


When using a Gravotech machine, step 4 and 5 become seamless. Gravostyle™ is able to create the proper position for the Raster® beads while ensuring they are drilled to the perfect diameter and depth.

See a video of an ADA sign being created on a Gravotech IS400: 

Raster™ Braille SpheresAccent Signage Raster™ Braille
Ref# 35666IN STOCK
Raster™ Braille SpheresAccent Signage Raster™ Braille
Ref# 35665IN STOCK
Raster™ Braille SpheresAccent Signage Raster™ Braille
Ref# 35664IN STOCK