Have you ever had a customer ask you where your restrooms are, only to point them to a blank door with no markings? Or perhaps you have a restroom sign hanging up on a discrete section of the wall, pointing customers to a few doors in the back of your building?

In both situations, you’re likely violating the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). According to the law, buildings are required to maintain appropriate signage for restrooms. Businesses without ADA-compliant restroom signs can be fined as much as $50,000 – so if you don’t have them, get them installed as soon as possible.

And don’t go just putting up any old sign! There are actually some specific requirements regarding height, size, and mounting location. For example, even if you have multiple signs pointing to a restroom, you might still not be compliant with the ADA requirements. Restroom signs must also have Braille on the sign to remain compliant. Braille is a system of raised dots signifying letters that blind individuals read by touch.

However, Sacramento business owners have even more criteria to comply with, as California is one of the first states to pass equal-use restroom legislation.

California Restroom Sign Requirements for Equal Access

It’s rather a long story as to how it emerged, but the fact is, on top of the federal ADA signs, in California you have to have an additional set of signs, which are distinctive large geometric shapes:

  • a 12-inch diameter circle for women and girls
  • a 12-inch equilateral triangle for boys and men must also be displayed.
  • a unisex or family sign with a triangle imposed on a circle, which should be in contrasting colors and of ¼-inch in thickness.

The signs can be easily seen at a distance, and also are thick enough around the edges so they can be felt by those with limited vision. You’ll also need directional signs to the restrooms if they’re not immediately in sight upon entering your storefront. But actually, these signs are changing as of 2017, with the 2016 passing of the Equal Restroom Access Act (ERAA).

The ERAA applies to all single-user restrooms in businesses and public buildings must now display signs indicating that the bathroom is gender neutral. Essentially, the single-occupant “family” restrooms as well as any single user restrooms in places like office buildings or gas stations, need to instead have gender neutral signage that complies with the previous requirements for unisex and family restroom signs.

So make sure your business’ restroom signage reflects the times and welcomes all people. Updating your restroom signs is a great opportunity to automate your restroom door and sink hardware as well, to make your facility safe and clean and accessible for everyone.