How Braille Signs Can Make Your Business More Accessible

Posted By On June 21 2021
Braille signs for visually impaired

Braille signs are designed to make it easier for the visually impaired to find their way in buildings and public spaces. They improve accessibility allowing those with vision issues to feel more confident and independent, whether they are entering the building.

Braille signs are tactile surfaces that the visually impaired can touch and read. Much like wheelchair accessibility, they make public spaces and residents alike more welcoming so people can remain active and have equal opportunities to enter public areas without challenges.

What is Braille?

Braille uses dot configurations raised on paper or other surfaces, providing a way for the visually impaired to read. There are two different “grades” of Braille:

  • Grade 1 Braille or uncontracted Braille: Which places each letter by itself.
  • Grade 2 Braille or contracted Braille: Which uses a series of short forms or signs to condense long Braille words.

Grade 1 Braille is easier to read, and because it is condensed also takes up less space. That is why it is commonly used on signs where word space is limited. However, pictograms can also be used for visually impaired signage Toronto buildings post. Using pictorial symbols, this type of signage is helpful for those who develop visual challenges later in life and, therefore, were not taught how to read braille. An example of this would be directional arrows.

Why Braille Signs are Important

Any building or area open to the public must provide equal access so that everyone can use the site without challenge. According to the Canadian National Institute of the Blind, there are approximately 500,000 Canadians who are blind or partially blind. There are also 1.5 million people with some degree of sight loss.

Accessible signage includes tactile signs, allowing those with visual impairments to navigate new areas and access information as needed. Accessible signage keeps people safe while creating an environment where everyone feels welcome.

Why Braille Signage is Important for Businesses

As a business or facility, the braille signage Toronto businesses post plays an important role in helping you maintain a positive image. If you make it difficult for a group of people to access your products and services, it can lead to negative PR. However, it can also lead to some hefty fines and even lawsuits. Therefore your business should be familiar with accessible signage requirements in Canada.

Accessible Signage Laws in Canada

In Canada, accessible signage is strictly enforced under the Accessible Canada Act. However, the rules are based on provincial legislation. Therefore Canadian facilities and businesses have to familiarize themselves with their local laws. In Ontario, you can refer to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Although the federal government is creating rules that will apply across Canada, the AODA is the authority to consult right now.

Braille Sign Best Practices

If you find the rules too vague, follow these best practices:

Where to Post Braille Signs

All permanent public spaces and rooms should have braille signs including:

  • Restrooms
  • Changing rooms
  • Elevators
  • Stairways
  • Electric rooms
  • Kitchens
  • Storage rooms
  • Break rooms

Your goal is to make your site as accessible and user-friendly as possible. Therefore assessing your building and looking for other opportunities to make access easier will make your location safer and more welcoming.

How to Design Accessible Signage

Signage that works best for the visually impaired follow these basic guidelines:

  • Matte finishes: Matte finishes reduce glare that can make signs difficult to read.
  • Contrast: Using a dark background with light-coloured characters or vice versa makes it easier to decipher the lettering.
  • Raised text/braille: For those who are legally blind, raised characters or braille are easier to read when rounded, left-aligned, and set horizontally. Also, only use “CAPS” for emergency instruction signage and choose Unified English Braille as the Braille of choice in Canada.
  • Multilingual signs: It can be a challenge to include multilingual design to cover both French and English. However, adding braille below the less dominant language is the right layout in these cases.
  • Use San serif fonts: Sans serif fonts such as Arial and Futura do not have stylized letters that can be harder to read. Ideally, they should be 16 – 50 mm in height.
  • Upper and lower case: A good rule of thumb is to use capitals for:
    • The first word of a sentence
    • Names
    • Proper nouns
    • Indicating individual letters of the alphabet
    • Initials
    • Acronyms
  • Accessibility symbols: Use the international symbol of access to identify accessible facilities.
  • Grade of braille: Choose uncontracted braille when the sign has ten words or less and contracted braille for signs for over ten words.

These guidelines will help you create an equally accessible site.

How to Place Raised Print or Braille Signs

Raised print signs work for both the blind and those who have partial vision. They can be combined with uncontracted braille so that those with visual impairments can read them. Ideally, raised print signs should be placed 1,500 mm above ground level, without obstructions that make it difficult or dangerous for those with visual impairments to reach them. For braille signs, they should be placed at least 1,015 mm and a maximum of 1,525 mm above the floor level so the average person can read the sign without bending over. As well, mount them 5 to 10 degrees from horizontal as opposed to having them vertical. Never place a braille sign near or on railings, as this blocks the area, and passersby can’t reach the rail when going downstairs. This increases the risk for accidents.

To learn more about how you braille signs can make your business more accessible, call Club Ink at (416) 694-1996 or contact us here.

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