Accessible signage and buildings

Creating accessible spaces

To create a brilliant customer experience, your company’s physical spaces can be welcoming and easily accessed by people who are blind or have low vision.  That means creating accessible signage and buildings. Think about how easy your entrance is to find and whether your reception area is uncluttered.   If you have a shop, could someone find where to pay for their goods easily?  Do your lifts have accessible signage so that everyone can use them?

Accessible environments and good design benefit everyone in the community.  It is all about buildings, parks, and every public space being safe and easy to move around. Well-designed spaces help people who are blind or have low vision be independent and make their way through the world.

Accessible buildings and public spaces

The Blind Foundation is expert at advising private companies, councils and government departments on creating accessible buildings and spaces.  Our experience includes:

  • advising councils on shared spaces, pedestrian crossings and footpaths.
  • working with transport agencies on creating accessible trains.
  • advising corporates on designing accessible buildings.

Our Environmental Awareness Team offers one on one consultation and advice. Whether it is for a space that currently exists, or one yet to be created, we can help.

To find out more about accessible environments, get in touch with the Blind Foundation’s Environmental Awareness team on 0800 24 33 33 or by email on eaa@blindfoundation.org.nz.

Accessible Signage

Accessible signage is a key to ensuring your customers can find their way to and around your space.

Braille buttons on a liftSignage that’s truly accessible can be read and understood by every customer, whether they read by sight or touch.  Think about signage for your payment counters, lifts, floor directories, emergency telephones, room numbers, and rest room facilities – can they be easily found and accessed by every person who comes through your doors?

The Blind Foundation has plenty of advice for creating signs that are accessible.  You can download our guidelines below.  These are best practice to include those who are blind or have low vision and expand on the requirements of NZ Standard 4121:2001

Accessible Signage Guidelines (.pdf)

Accessible Signage Guidelines (.doc)

Useful signage tips

Tactile print: Accessible signs should include embossed high contrast print letters as well as braille so more people can read your signs by touch.  Please don’t use engraved print – it’s really hard to read by touch.

Clear and Concise:  Accessible signs should use easy to read fonts, good contrast between letter colour and it’s background, and letters big enough to be read from the appropriate distance.  The letters should not all be capitalised.

Durability: Make your accessible signs out of durable matt materials like plastic, aluminium and stainless steel. Signs made from braille label stickers and laminated cardboard don’t last the distance.

Placement: signs should be at 1400 – 1600mm from the floor to the bottom of the sign.

Signage in lifts: your lifts should have accessible signage for all buttons in and outside of the lift as well as floor indicators.  The signage should be to the left of the buttons – it’s often too hard to read when it sits directly on them.   We recommend braille signage even in talking lifts so deafblind people can also have access to the information.  Talking lifts are important too – if other passengers are stopping at floors, the person who’s blind or has low vision needs to hear when the lift stops on their floor.

Sourcing signage: several local companies produce accessible signage.  We have found the cost of producing accessible signage locally cheaper  than it used to be. You can import signage but it tends to be more expensive, can have different braille codes and sizes, and might not comply with Blind Foundation guidelines. If you do import braille signs, you should know that braille signage from the USA does not comply. Australian and UK signs may be safer choices.

Braille signage production: although the Blind Foundation doesn’t produce signage, we can supply an image of the correctly-sized braille
as a PDF.

For a quote, call 0800 24 33 33 or email signage@blindfoundation.org.nz

We are also happy to look at samples to help you get your signs right.

Taxi signage: The New Zealand Transport Agency’s Land Transport Rule, Operating Licensing 2007 (as amended in 2009) requires taxis to display certain information for passengers in braille.  Read our fact sheet on braille signage in taxis.