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Building Codes and Inspections/signage @ exterior glass doors & windows


Are there any regulations regarding installation of building signage on glass entry doors or windows throughout a building? There was an instance of someone walking into a glass door and we are curious as to whether signage could have prevented the injury and if so, 1) is signage required? 2) what size / color and 3) where placed? If no regulation, what would be a best practice that would maintain the aesthetic of the building while serving a safety role?

First, let me get one thing out of the way didn't ask. It is perfectly fine to put braille and raised character room and building identification signs on glass windows adjacent to doors, as long as they are not too deep. The person needs to be able to approach the sign with his or her nose no more than 3 inches from the sign, without encountering an obstacle or being hit by the swing of a door. They shouldn't have to lean over unless they are so tall their eyes are higher than the legal sign installation height, since leaning over shortens their height. In other words, if they are fairly short, you don't want them to have to lean over an obstacle to get to the sign, because then it is just way above their eyes and they can't read it. Remember that most legally blind people use their vision to read, and need to have it close.

I brought this up, because if you do put such a sign on a glass window adjacent to a door, it obviously also prevents people from walking through the window. And, it's much better than putting such a sign all the way on the other side of an adjacent window, where it has no relationship to the door it identifies.

Now, on to your specific concern about the safety of glass windows and doors. Doors are safe, because they normally have hardware and it's easier to recognize that they are there for that reason. Also, they are always a good place to locate the International Symbol of Accessibility, which serves as a "warning" that this is something you can't walk through. It's also a good place to locate vinyl graphics with information like hours of operation, or even a business logo and name.

Windows can be more dangerous. It's always a good idea to consider some kind of continuous graphic element that is attractive, but serves as a warning that this is not a doorway that you can walk through. There are frosted vinyls that are very good for this. Sometimes the company logo can be repeated across the window expanse. It doesn't need to be large, but just in a pattern across the extent of the glass, and at a height where it serves as a reminder. I do not know of any specific regulations, but anything that serves as a visual warning, and is about at eye level for the average person, would be fine. The more aesthetically pleasing and well designed, the better in my opinion!

I don't know if any city or state has standards that require such graphics. To my knowledge, California does not. However, I think it is well advised, and advising clients about safety and risk is an important part of being a professional company, in my opinion. Our own offices all have "showroom window" walls, and we have our logo and the name of the department in frosted vinyl at eye level across every one of these window walls. It's just common sense, and is actually very attractive, as well. When we moved in, and prior to their installation, believe me, I almost banged my head on one of those window walls a couple of times! Now, we haven't had a single such incident.

If you have power doors, or power assist doors, there are specific regulations as to the decals and text that must be placed on the doors, so that is another issue. Also, if you have devices to activate doors for disabled access, you should put text on the door stating or directing to the location of the activation device unless it is immediately adjacent to the door, and is well marked with a contrasting International Symbol of Accessibility.

I hope this covers the topic with enough detail that it will be of assistance. Thank you for such a good question. I think I might bring it up in my "ADA Sign Lady" group on Linked In. If you are a Linked In member and would like to join my group, I would very much like to have you.  

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Sharon Toji


I have special expertise in the subject of accessibility codes and guidelines (ADA), and most specifically in the field of signage. If you have a question that is not about the ADA or about signs, I suggest you try the following excellent site: Naffa International BCDG (Building Code Discussion Group). The website address is You do have to register, but it's free. You will find discussions here on all kinds of Building Code Q & A topics. You go to the forum that sounds as if it's close to your topic, check out some of the posts and see if it sounds like a fit. Then pose your question. With luck, you may get some really good answers. You can email some of the experts individually by clicking on the headings of their posts. When you ask a question, of me, or of someone on the above site, tell them your state, and maybe your city if it's a large city. That is crucial for answering code questions. Sharon Toji


I am a voting delegate to the American National Standards Institute that writes accessiblity standards used by the International Building Code and are the basis for the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). I am also a member of the Access Advisory Committee to the California State Building Standards Commission, among other positions.

Signs and the ADA (a manual I have written that is used across the country), and articles in many trade journals.

BA, Reed College Graduate work, University of Munich (Germany) and University of California, Irvine

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