Accessible signs should not discriminate

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“A person must be big enough to admit mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them” --John C. Maxwell, author, speaker, pastor

COMMENT: I read your article about accessible signage in the February issue of Public Works magazine (“Signs, signs, everywhere a sign,” page 18), and I have a problem with the red canceling circle. Where in the code does it say to mark non-accessible entrances with a sign? The sign itself just looks just plain politically incorrect. A red line going through the symbol looks discriminatory in and of itself. -- Chip "Champion for Accessibility"

RESPONSE: I am so grateful for your comment. Often, when I am speaking, training, or consulting I tell people “what comes out of spring water goes in a muddy river.” I knew what message I was trying to convey, but it came out misleading. Thanks to you, Chip, I can correct my canceled-out wheelchair logo.

The sign itself does bring about a negative connotation and the code does not require that. However, the code does require that if an entrance is not accessible, a sign must be present showing where the accessible entrance is located:

      Signage 4.1.2 Accessible Sites and Exterior Facilities: New Construction (c) Accessible entrances when not all are accessible (inaccessible entrances shall have directional signage to indicate the route to the nearest accessible entrance.)

Example Sign:

I agree with Chip: DO NOT use my sample with the red canceling circle. It is important to approach from the positive side, and not the negative.

Again, I truly appreciate not only questions but also comments. Chip has helped me to see the other side of one of my suggestions, which I will no longer use since I agree completely with his comment.

Wishing you all a great spring and an end to all of these snowstorms!



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About the Blogger

Michele Ohmes

thumbnail image Michele S. Ohmes is an Americans with Disabilities Act specialist and wheelchair user who works with public works departments, facility managers, and contractors. Her design manual — ADA and Accessibility: Let's Get Practical — is available on CD-ROM through the American Public Works Association's Web site. Author's note: Michele & Associates does not render legal advice and has no enforcement authority regarding the ADA or other federal disability-rights legislation.