South Florida Hospital News
Saturday July 11, 2020

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October 2015 - Volume 12 - Issue 4


Baron Sign Meets ADA Compliance

"It is not the destination, but the journey that matters." That statement by Sandra Foland, CEO of Baron Sign Manufacturing, describes the necessity for clean, clear, concise ADA/way finding signage. That includes signage for interior and exterior public areas of health care facilities – whether outpatient clinics, urgent care clinics, or hospitals – that serves patients, visitors, and staff, and enables them to move safely and efficiently through the property.

Baron Sign has been providing such services for more than 30 years, and Foland said one of the most important things to do at the start of a project is to talk with the facilities director. "The facilities director is in charge of making sure that the hospital has code-compliant and ADA-compliant signage," she said. "They're also in charge of the overall safety of the facility, meaning making sure there's correct signage from the time someone drives onto the property, that directs them to the area closest to where they need to go."
Foland pointed out, for example, that some hospital complexes have two towers and some have two parking garages. It is therefore up to the facilities director to be aware of the placement of way finding signage, allowing the person coming to the hospital to park closest to where he or she needs to go; likewise, once they enter the hospital, to have proper signage that makes them as comfortable as they can be – whether they are going to visit somebody or going for a procedure themselves.
Specifically, Foland said there is a checklist for ADA compliance. "That checklist needs to be read before the facility chooses the types of signs it wants. There are rules and regulations, and that's what we go by. We then audit the hospital facility through the hallways, up and down the stairways, to make sure all those laws are in compliance."
For example, some of the ADA enforceable accessibility standards as issued by the Department of Justice state that signs must have a non-glare background; they must have a high dark/light contrast between the characters and the background; and they must use sans serif typefaces, with the characters between five-eighths of an inch and two inches high, and a minimum of one-eighth of an inch in between. Many material options can be used for ADA sign projects – acrylics, photopolymers, metals, melamine, and even stone, and each comes with advantages for the environment in which it is used.
Because of these new standards, Foland said Baron Sign has had to go back and update signage at some facilities. "We've done that in a number of places: Broward Health is one, and we're working right now on some signage for Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm, Homestead Hospital, and the University of Miami Hospital is another."
However, Foland said that even after the signs are in place, Baron Sign's work is not finished. "Once we install the signs, we're continually going back and making sure that they're maintained and are in very good condition. If signs are lit outside the hospital, it's very important to check them to make sure they're working at night – because you don't want an emergency sign where half of it is not lit; or you don't want the name of your hospital not to be lit. Therefore, many hospitals have a maintenance program with sign companies, where we go there at night once a month to check and make sure that every sign is lit."
Additionally, the code compliance states, e.g., that signs have to be in stairwells. She pointed out that certain stairwells in hospitals and facilities must have roof access, and must be labeled as such. "If a fire occurs in the hospital, the fire department looks for that signage in the stairwells; you can't have fire fighters go to the top floor and find there's no roof access. Then you'll have firemen stuck in a stairwell."
Foland concluded by saying, "The important thing is overall ADA-compliant signage in the interior with Braille, and overall way finding and directional signage that gets the customer to the right area. You probably don't realize that signage does a lot of things for you if you're going to a hospital or a health care facility. You're usually not yourself, you're anxious. So everything that can make the experience better for you, is better for the facility, too."

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