ADA Wayfinding Signage Requirements

ADA Wayfinding Signage Requirements: Designing with Accessibility in Mind

Published on: April 30, 2019

Creating an inclusive environment just plain makes good business sense. But making sense of the requirements can be a little overwhelming—especially when you are trying to balance them with your brand strategy. Do ADA wayfinding signage requirements have to lessen the impact of your overall environmental branding?

Not necessarily. While ADA can seem restrictive, it is still possible to creatively and effectively convey your brand and provide direction for all people in an attractive and inclusive manner.

Simply put, implementing branded elements in your sign program can satisfy the primary goal of removing potential wayfinding barriers and, at the same time, go a step further. While adhering to the requirements, you have the opportunity to add customized colors, materials, and patterns that match your brand. These elements can create a unique, cohesive architectural signage program that effectively guides, informs, and welcomes all guests and employees alike for broader engagement.

Understanding the Basics of ADA Wayfinding Signage Requirements

ADA Wayfinding Signage Requirements

Utilizing various colors, patterns, and materials can enhance your brand while still meeting ADA requirements.

You don’t need to be able to quote the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design act verbatim to adhere to it when it comes to your wayfinding signage. You just need to know the critical components as well as why they’re necessary. Here are the basics:

These requirements might seem strict, but they do come with a certain amount of flexibility. The ADA Standards allow you to make your own decisions when it comes to some elements which will enable you to avoid stock images and bland visuals that detract from your built environment’s unique, branded message.

Branding ADA Wayfinding Signage to Broaden Engagement

Branding your wayfinding signage can solve problems that ADA signage requirements don’t. Your wayfinding signage can help to guide disabled individuals as they enter the building and navigate their way around, but branding creates an even more positive experience within your built environment. It makes everyone feel included and welcome. We can especially see the impact of branded wayfinding within the healthcare industry.

Healthcare facility layouts are often complex and decentralized, sometimes encompassing entire campuses, that can be disorienting for patients. But studies show that the ability to find one’s way contributes significantly to satisfaction rankings. When effective wayfinding signage is paired with branded elements, patients develop a connection between having a positive experience and trusting your brand identity. This connection can foster a sense of long-term loyalty when the branded elements are designed thoughtfully.

Wayfinding design elements should become part of your overall environmental branding, rather than something that stands out as an afterthought. You can do this by including three key features in your wayfinding signage plan.

ADA Wayfinding Signage Requirements

GNU Group utilizes landmarking to leverage intuitive visual cues—like graphics, paints, and flooring—to map out different decision-making points.

Aside from just branding standard ADA wayfinding signage requirements through color, materials, and patterns, you can go the extra mile by landmarking. Landmarking involves leveraging intuitive visual clues like graphics, paints, flooring, landscaping and even scent to map out different decision-making points in your facility. A comprehensive branded wayfinding program like this can pay dividends in developing a holistic brand identity that resonates with clients at all touchpoints.

For the most effective wayfinding program, however, you’ll want to work with an expert signage design firm that is skilled in creating branded solutions to assist everyone, regardless of their physical abilities, by providing inclusive wayfinding solutions.   


GNU Group can help you adhere to ADA wayfinding signage requirements while also reinforcing your company’s brand. We create sign standards programs that ensure your plan is inclusive, creative, and above all, human-centric. For more information on our process, connect with our team.