Friday, March 17, 2023

Making the Most of Your Stairwell with Effective Stairwell Signage

 We are often asked about what proper stairwell signage is required in conventional building stairwells. This is often a difficult question, because it depends on your state's version of the International Building Code they are enforcing. Add to this the fact that many local municipalities have their own requirements for stairwell signage, and things can get confusing. The bottom line is to always check with your state and local building inspectors and Fire Marshal to assure your stairwell signs are compliant. That being said, when you combine NFPA and IFC/IBC guidelines, we can come up with a common stairwell sign with the following characteristics.


IFC 1023.9.1 indicates signs shall be a minimum of 18” x 12”


- The top text should designate stairway identification and charcaters should be 1-1/2” tall minimum.

- Text designating NO ROOF ACCESS (character height - 1” minimum)

- Floor level number shall be a minimum of 5” tall (Note that Mezzanine levels should be marked with “M” and basement levels with “B” or something else appropriate.

CBC 1023.9 requires a five pointed star next to the level number if this level is a point of discharge.)

- Sign text should also include the lower and upper terminus of the stairwell in (character height - 1” minimum.)

- Text should spell out the level, and direction to, exiting the building (character height – 1” minimum.)

- Tactile letters shows good intent and coincides with ADA


Generally speaking the letters of the stairwell ID sign should contrast well with the background color, (i.e. - dark background with light letters or vice versa.) Letters and background ideally should have a non-glare finish.


Depending on state or local codes, this may or may not be a requirement, but it is always best to include braille and show good intent.


Again, depending on state or local codes, glow in the dark stairwell signs may or may not be a requirement. For example, New York City local law 26 requires photoluminescent signage in many instances.

Given the above characteristics and requirements, your stairwell signage would look something like this…

stairwell id signs and stairwell signage

Note that besides the standard stairwell sign (type A.1 and A.2 pictured above), you would also require some additional signage:

1. A floor level sign meeting ADA sign requirements with tactile letters and braille meeting ICC A117.1 requirements should be installed inside the stairwell, and located at each floor level landing next to the door leading from the stairwell into the corridor, (see Sign C above.)

2. If there is an exit door from the stairwell leading to the outside or to the level of exit discharge for the building, there should be an “EXIT” sign with raised characters and braille installed adjacent to this door on the latch side, (Sign B.) Doors leading to an exit door would require and "EXIT ROUTE sign (Sign E.)

3. Corridor and hallway doors leading INTO stairwells require tactile and braille signs designating “STAIRS” or the stairwell identification, (i.e. - “Stair B” "NORTH STAIR" etc..) See sign D above.

Effective Stairwell Signage will not only keep your facility code compliant but more importantly keep your patrons, customers, residence and visitors safe and informed. Visit for all your stairwell signage needs, or call us with questions. We are here to help!

Friday, March 10, 2023

ADA Compliant Signs and Requirements


ADA Sign compliance and requirements

SIX Reasons Your Signs may NOT be ADA Compliant

It's not just an arbitrary set of rules. ADA sign compliance is about removing unnecessary barriers for your patrons, employees and customers. A specific set of requirements exists for your interior wall signs as set forth by the Department of Justice’s Americans with Disabilities Act and their approval of the 2010 ADA/ABA Accessabilty Guidelines. Here are the top 6 reasons why your interior signs may not be ADA compliant:

1. Letter Height. Are characters too big or small? From the 2010 Standard for Accessible Design:

703.2.5 Character Height. Character height measured vertically from the baseline of the character shall be 5/8 inch (16 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum based on the height of the uppercase letter “I”.

Simply put, interior ADA compliant wall signs should have characters no smaller than 5/8” and no bigger than 2”. It’s also important that these characters are all CAPS, a sans-serif font, and not too bold or condensed.

703.2.2 Case. Characters shall be uppercase.

703.2.3 Style. Characters shall be sans serif. Characters shall not be italic, oblique, script, highly decorative, or of other unusual forms.

703.2.4 Character Proportions. Characters shall be selected from fonts where the width of the uppercase letter “O” is 55 percent minimum and 110 percent maximum of the height of the uppercase letter “I”.

2. Character Spacing. Do the letters seem to all run together? Often overlooked when making signs, there needs to be a minimum of 1/8” between the two closest points of adjacent tactile characters, excluding word spaces. What this usually involves when making a compliant sign is spacing characters out a little more than normal, keeping close attention to some character combinations that may graphically be closer than others.

703.2.7 Character SpacingCharacter spacing shall be measured between the two closest points of adjacent raised characters within a message, excluding word spaces. Where characters have rectangular cross sections, spacing between individual raised characters shall be 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) minimum and 4 times the raised character stroke width maximum.

3. Line Spacing. Spacing between baselines of separate lines of raised characters should be 135 percent minimum and 170 percent maximum of the raised character height. Often when designing signs, the interline spacing is decreased to allow more lines of text to fit within the sign space. Doing so may be non-compliant if the lines are too close together, and do not fall within the specified 135-170 percent range.

703.2.8 Line Spacing. Spacing between the baselines of separate lines of raised characters within a message shall be 135 percent minimum and 170 percent maximum of the raised character height.

4. Pictograms and 6” Field. Pictograms should have a field height of 6 inches. Signage with symbols such as the man or women symbol on restroom signs require a six inch high background field where characters and braille do NOT exist. Other pictograms in question tend to be those related to signs that are used to designate various rooms and spaces. Pictograms such as those for maps and plans do not need to comply.

703.6.1 Pictogram Field. Pictograms shall have a field height of 6 inches (150 mm) minimum. Characters and braille shall not be located in the pictogram field.

5Finish and Contrast. This requirements is straightforward stating that interior ADA compliant wall signs need to have a non-glare finish, and symbols of accessibility shall contrast with their background, meaning either a light colored symbol on a dark background or vice-versa. Signs are more legible for those with vision disabilities when characters contrast as much as possible with their background, and surface glare is minimized.

6Compliant Braille. All sorts of rules apply to the braille that accompanies raised text including position, dot height, spacing, etc. Currently, Grade 2 contracted braille is required, which is a condensed version of braille using 189 contractions and shortened forms of words. Common braille mistakes in ADA signage include using Grade 1 braille where words are spelled out letter-for-letter instead of the contracted Grade 2 braille. Other errors include not locating braille at least 3/8” minimum from raised text, and limiting capitalization only to the first word of sentences, proper nouns/names, individual letters of the alphabet, initials and acronyms.

Ultimately design and manufacturing of ADA compliant interior signs that identify permanent rooms and spaces as required by ADA can be challenging if manufactures are not up-to-date on the rules and regulations. That is why all of us at pride ourselves on knowing these intricate regulations and codes for ADA Signage. That being the case... let us know if we can help, and rest assured, your signs are made right at



Old Perkins Braille Machine used by Margie to braille children's books

When Jim was a small child he would marvel at his Mother Margie's skill and generosity as she tirelessly hand punched children's books in braille on thick cardstock paper using an old Perkins Braille Embosser. This monstrosity of a machine looked like an old typewriter with only nine keys. Working as a volunteer, Margie's books were given to blind and sight-impaired children for enjoyment and education. It was hard work. Typing on this old Perkins Braille machine was arduous and difficult, often leading to sore fingers, wrists and shoulders. Margie deserves much credit for her plentiful contributions to the blind. As an adult, Jim was inspired to continue his Mother's legacy, and today, along with his two sons, manufacture braille labels and signage of all kinds for the blind and sight impaired. is brought to you by SCS Sign Company, a full service manufacturer of ADA braille signage. We are experts in braille signage, and some of us have been making ADA braille signs since the inception of the Americans With Disability Act signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.

Back in the day, ADA signs were often simple, hard to find and frankly kind of boring. Even today, finding an ADA Braille sign in your color choice with your custom text for your specific need, in a modern design at a fair price can still be difficult. That's where we come in! offers you the flexibility and variety to quickly and easily find the ADA signage you require in sleek customized modern designs.

We have many Sign Series Designs ready to go. Pick the Design Series you like, choose your ADA sign and colors, specify your text, and you're done! Whether you need signs for a restroom, room numbers, directional signs, or stairwell signage, each series is made so that you can purchase a variety of sign types while sticking with the same Sign Design. This keeps all your signs uniform and consistent! What about ADA regulations? Rest assured, we use "best practice" manufacturing techniques that ensure your signs meet or exceed ADA/ABA and CA Title 24 sign requirements and regulations. In fact, we guarantee our signs meet ADA requirements! Factory direct and made in the good ol' doesn't get any better than that.