DJ 192-180-02680 MAR 09 1992 Mr. Michael J.

Davis Co-Publisher, Engravers Journal Post Office Box 318 26 Summit Street Brighton, Michigan 48116 Dear Mr. Davis: This letter is in response to your recent letter to the Attorney General concerning the requirements for permanent signs contained in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), which are incorporated as an appendix to the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Board) is currently drafting proposed accessibility guidelines for title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which covers State and local governments. At the next Board meeting on March 10, I plan to request that the Board agree to include specific questions concerning appropriate standards for signage in the preamble to that proposed rule. This will enable the engraving industry to formally present to the Board its views on engraved lettering. The Board will carefully consider all comments received and determine whether the title II guidelines should permit engraved lettering on permanent signs. If the comments received indicate that such a determination is appropriate, I will recommend to the Board that the title III guidelines be revised to be consistent with the title II guidelines. I strongly encourage representatives of the engraving industry to submit comments on the proposed title II guidelines so that the Board will have the necessary information to make a wise decision on the issue. cc: Records; CRS Files; Oneglia; Friedlander; Wodatch; McDowney. :udd:friedlander:davis.2


-2For your information, I have enclosed a copy of our recently issued title II and title III technical assistance manuals. The Department of Justice has defined "permanent signs" in a restrictive manner. The only signs subject to the raised letter requirement are men's and women's rooms, room numbers, and exit signs (see page 59 of the title III manual). Finally, I would like to clear up some confusion in your letter about the requirements for permanent signs under the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). The Department of Justice title II regulation permits public entities to follow UFAS, contained at Appendix A to 41 CFR part 101-19.6. That version of UFAS was amended in 1989 by the General Services Administration to delete the reference to engraved letters and to instead require raised letters only on permanent signs. Thus, public entities are, in fact, held to the same standard as private entities (see page 26 of the title II manual). In other words, raised letters are required on permanent signs both under UFAS and under ADAAG. Confusion has resulted because the other three agencies that issued UFAS (the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the United States Postal Services) never amended their UFAS documents as the General Services Administration did. Therefore, Federal buildings under those agencies' jurisdictions continue to permit engraved letters on permanent signs. I hope this information has been helpful to you.


John R. Dunne Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures



Attorney General of the United States The Honorable William P. Barr Department of Justice Constitution Avenue & 10th Street NW Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Attorney General: I understand that your Mr. John Dunne met with the ATBCB recently and the outcome, according to ATBCB Executive Director, Larry Roffee, was that the ATBCB is awaiting a letter of recommendation from you personally. As Mr. Roffee explained it to me, your letter is supposed to deal specifically with an issue of great concern to the engraving and sign industries: the prohibition under the ADA of incised lettering on interior signs. This prohibition, in turn, is based on the Georgia Tech "study" which is the subject of the enclosed article reprint. Unfortunately, the study was poorly done and all that it proves is that both raised and incised lettering can be read tactually but that neither can be read infallibly. The only major concern our industry has is the raised-letter-only provision, especially since both raised and incised lettering are permitted under the UFAS standard. Therefore the ADA subjects privately owned buildings to more stringent requirements than certain government-owned buildings. Our publication and entire industry applaud the spirit and intent of the ADA and would like to produce highly innovative and cost effective "accessible" signage which provides total freedom of movement for the visually impaired. It would be desirable to get this issue resolved and get back to business as usual. Therefore our industry respectfully requests that you promptly send the ATBCB the letter of recommendation they are awaiting. We would also appreciate a copy of the same. Thank you in advance and we remain, Sincerely, Michael J. Davis Co-Publisher P.O. Box 318 * 26 Summit St. * Brighton, Michigan 48116 * (313) 229-5725 * FAX (313)229-8320

01-00514 THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT: HOW IT AFFECTS OUR INDUSTRY As things stand now, January 26, 1992 may be the beginning of the end for the engraving industry as we know it. That is the day the Americans with Disabilities Act goes into effect. It is a new law affecting the entire United States, which is based on strong Civil Rights premises, but has implications that could severely impair the businesses of up to 50,000 engravers. The bill was passed by both houses of Congress and subsequently signed into law by President George Bush on July 26, 1990. It is the most sweeping nondiscrimination legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.-(Nancy Lee Jones. Legislative Attorney). The overall law is a very positive step for the equality of Americans with all types of physical disabilities. Unfortunately, in providing this segment of society the equality they have long deserved. the law is nearly legislating our entire industry out of existence. This law has caught the engraving industry totally off guard. Although the law went through the entire legislative process, including hearings in selected cities, apparently either no one in the engraving industry knew of it or the word never spread until a few months ago. Consequently, our industry had no input into the law. Obviously we are all very concerned about it. The provisions of the law state that "No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities. privileges. advantages or accommodations of any place of public accommodation..." (section 302.a). This means that all people, disabled and able alike, have the right to equal access to all public facilities. The phrases "public facilities" and "places of public access" are important

Reprinted with permission from The Engravers Journal November/December 1991 1991 The Engravers Journal, Inc, P.O. Box 318, Brighton MI 48118 All rights reserved


because the law affects the signage in just about any building open to the public - not just government buildings, but every school, hospital, office building and mom and pop retail store in America. To have access to a facility means to be able to move around the building freely. Blind people are unable to move freely through some buildings because they are unable to read the signs on the wall. This law addresses this problem by ruling that all permanent signs must be tactile (read with the hands) so the visually impaired are able to read them. Tactile signage is not, per se, a problem for engravers. It is possible to read engraved signage tactually. The problem is that the law mandates that these permanent signs be made with raised tactile letters only. It states that: 1) Letters must be raised 1 32" from the surface.

2) Grade B braille messages must be on every permanent sign. 3) Pictograms and graphics must have a verbal description below them and a 1 32" raised border around them. 4) The character type must be simple or sans serif. 5) The character height must be a minimum of 5 8" and a maximum of 2". 6) The width-to-height ratio should be between 3:5 and 1:1, and the stroke width-to-height ratio should be between 1:5 and 1:10. 7) There should be a 70% difference in reflectance between the background color and the character color. (This basically means dark on light and light on dark colors only, e.g. black on white, off-white on dark brown.) 8) The finish must be eggshell or matte (low-glare). This list indicates the major provisions that will affect engravers. There are other provisions regarding such requirements as sign placement, etc., that are not covered here. It would appear that the new law covers all the bases. If a visually impaired person has some, albeit poor, vision, he or she can read the message. If not, he or she can read it tactually by feeling the characters or by reading the braille.

There is a "grandfather clause" built into the law so that it only applies to new building construction and major renovations. Every building in America will not have to change its current signage to avoid violations. It should also be pointed out that only "permanent" signage need comply with the regulations. According to the Rules and Regulations in the Federal Register, Volume 56, Number 144, the law deals with: (16) Building Signage (a) Signs which designate permanent rooms and spaces shall comply with 4.30.1, 4.30.4, 4.30.5 and 4.30.6. (b) Other signs which provide direction to or information about functional spaces of the building shall comply with 4.30.1, 4.30.2, 4.30.3 and 4.30.5. EXCEPTION: Building directories, menus and all other signs which are temporary are not required to comply. These regulations are vague and open to interpretation. It appears that most building signs, short of directories, menus and other temporary signs such as personnel nameplates that appear on office doors and cubicles, are required to have raised letters and braille. Other signs, e.g. those directing you through and around permanent floors, hallways and rooms, must also have raised letters and braille. So, for example, the room number on an office door must have raised letters and braille, but the name of the person occupying that office presumably can be marked in any number of ways, including sunken, engraved characters.

Anyone who has recently filled an architectural signage order knows that the trend is to coordinate the signage throughout the building. The colors are coordinated, the sign styles are coordinated and the marking method used for the signs is coordinated. When some signs in a building must be raised letter signs on 70% reflective material, such as black/white or white/black, how likely is it that the customer will order different types and colors of signs for the ones that are not strictly regulated? Probably the most interesting aspect of the new law is that engraved ("incised" or sunken) characters are tactile and can be read by feeling them. Yet, in effect, incised characters are outlawed by the new law. Why should this be? The answer is that the new regulations are based almost entirely on a study conducted by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB), a Federal agency in Washington DC. The Journal obtained and examined the ATBCB study which was used to come up with these regulations. It appears that the regulations are based almost completely on the findings of this study, yet the study draws conclusions that range from questionable to actually false. The Study Behind the Regulations Titled A Multidisciplinary Assessment of the State of the Art of Signage for Blind and Low Vision Persons, this study was funded by the Federal government through the ATBCB in the mid 1980s ('84-'85). It cost nearly

$1.3 million to complete, and the findings which are now law are, in places, absurd. The study's intent was to test dayto-day functions of the visually impaired. By way of background, about 12 million Americans are severely visually impaired, which means their vision cannot be corrected to 20/20 visual acuity. About 648,000 people are legally blind and 23% of them (or about 144,000) are totally blind. The test was to see how well visually impaired people can read various signs. The test basically covered the areas of tactile and non-tactile readability of signs and surfaces based on the size of the characters, the relief or depth of the characters, the characteristics of the various typefaces, the contrast between the letters and the background, upper- or lower-case lettering, lighting, glare, reflections, information content and sign design. Some aspects were tested in the lab and others were tested in the field. There was also a comprehensive test that combined those aspects tested in the lab and those tested in the field into one test. The study was presented to the ATBCB with impeccable credentials. Most of the research, testing and statistical compilations were done by the highly prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia. The general conclusions that were drawn state that past signage regulations for the disabled were incomplete, unclear and, in some instances, incorrect. As a result, the Justice Department adopted nearly all of the study's find-

ings, which were considered clear and correct. The study was conducted by an impressive board of representatives from academic institutions as well as from large organizations. Members of the ATBCB were part of the advisory panel, as were members of the Ameri-

01-00516 can Foundation for the Blind, Georgia Tech School of Architecture, the School of Architecture from the University of Wisconsin and the Special Education and Rehabilitation Center, to name a few highly prestigious organizations. The participants, or subjects, in the study (visually impaired volunteers)

came from the National Federation of the Blind Conference in Phoenix, and the American Council of the Blind Conference in Philadelphia. There were also participants from Georgia Tech. Of the 167 total participants, some were totally blind and others were partially sighted (partially sighted people's best corrected vision does not exceed 20/70, or the maximum diameter of their visual field does not exceed 20 degrees, e.g. tunnel vision). Of the participating subjects, 73.7% could read braille. (According to the American Foundation for the Blind, only 19% of the legally blind in the U.S., or 1% of the severely visually impaired, read braille.) Similarly, 61.7% of the participants were congenitally blind (blind from birth) yet the overwhelming majority of the blind in America (80%) are adventitiously blind (go blind later in life). Some participants (35.1%) had training in tactile reading. The study acknowledges that this is a well-educated group (32.9% of the test subjects had college degrees) and is, on a whole, better educated than the average visually impaired person. The participants took part in a series of tests involving reading raised letter signs. They were given 24 signs with random characters (not words) to read both visually (if possible) and tactually (the partially sighted wore blindfolds for tactile readings). The success rates that participants had when reading these signs were then statistically tallied. Some of the conclusions drawn in the study are based on these results, while others appear to be diametrically opposite the statistical data, and based

purely on the subjective opinions of the participants. The Results of the Study The regulations of the law are almost exactly the same as the results of the study. The study results state: 1) All tactile characters should be sans serif or simple serif: 2) All characters should be upper case: 3) All characters must be raised a minimum of 1/32"; 4) All characters should be 2" high; 5) Blind people preferred raised letters over incised letters. This last conclusion is especially troublesome, because it indicates that based on a preference, not overall readability, incised letters should not be used. This is one of the main questionable points in the study. Can they really base a great deal of credence on the fact that these people prefer to read raised over incised characters? What Does All This Mean? The fact of the matter is, a law has been passed that is a good law overall. It makes a bold Civil Rights movement by helping a group that has been unconsciously discriminated against for a long time. The problem is the regulations adopted by the Justice Department (which is responsible for enforcing parts of the law) are almost solely based on a single, highly biased study which at times based conclusions and recommendations on totally flawed and even blatantly false information. One of the major problems with the study is that the sign samples that the participants read were inconsistent and

inaccurate. They tested two thicknesses of raised letters, 3/64" relief and 1/8" relief. For the incised letters, they tested 1/32" deep letters and also letters whose depth was described as "less than 1/32". How deep is that? Also, many typestyles are misidentified in the study. For example, they labeled a letter that is clearly an Optima typestyle as a Roman typestyle. They also compared the tactile readability of two totally different typefaces in raised vs. incised characters and then compiled statistical data based on which was more readable, the raised or the incised characters. These sorts of incongruities call into question the accuracy of the statistical conclusions that can be drawn. The sign samples did not contain recognizable words, but rather tested random letter combinations. This is an unreal scenario because the only signs that are read day to day contain real words. The text of the study states that, "Some experts will argue that reading is accomplished by recognizing the 'footprint' of the word or sentence not by reading and recognizing each individual letter." The study went on to say that testing this factor would have made this study too complex and it would require further research. The study also says that a 1:5 to 1:10 stroke to height ratio is best, yet acknowledges that some typestyles outside this range are just as easily read as those which meet the standard. Not once in the study were either raised or incised letters read 100% accurately. True, in some instances

raised were read somewhat more accurately than incised, but in other cases, the opposite was true. In any event, both types fluctuated primarily in the 60%-80% accuracy range. It was certainly not the case that raised letters were unquestionably more readable; especially since they did not compare like letters, i.e. they compared high relief letters (1/8") with shallow incised letters (1/32"). One would suspect that if the height/depth of the raised incised characters were reversed and then compared, e.g. 1/8" deep incised characters vs. 1/32" raised characters, the incised characters would be statistically more readable in all cases! How can this type of unscientific comparison be used as the basis for financially devastating our industry? These "apples to oranges" comparisons occur throughout the study. For example, figure 1 shows Table 8 from the study. In it they are comparing the readability of incised and raised letters based on intercharacter spacing. Notice the relief vs. depth in each example, as well as the comparison of distinctly different typestyles. Also note that the statistical readability of two out of three of the examples shows the "incised" characters to be more readable than the raised letters. In only one instance do they compare "like" typestyles (albeit with different heights/ depths). In the other examples the typestyles being compared are different. From there the conclusion is formulated that "All characters should be raised." How can this be indisputable based on such a poor example? If the test compared raised Caslon typestyle and incised Caslon typestyle,

then raised Jubilee and incised Jubilee, and the conclusions were the same as they were with the Helvetica Medium (which was read by 17% more people when it was raised than when it was incised), the conclusions might be believable. As it is, they are questionable because the examples are inherently incomparable. The study is riddled with similar "apples to oranges" disparities. For example, in some areas very vague directions are given, e.g. "letters should be without excessive flourishes and

01-00517 line width changes." while in others very specific recommendations are given, e.g. Helvetica Medium is the easiest to read. Some areas, therefore, are wide open for interpretation and others are not. There are a lot of "gray areas" from which specific "black and white" recommendations are drawn. Another factor that might have affected the results of this study's recommendations is that it was conducted with a highly-educated, elite group of visually impaired people. It simply was not a cross section of "everyday" people, although they were testing "everyday" activities. Of those tested, 73.5% could read braille; yet only 1% of the total severely visually impaired in the U.S. ever use braille. Similarly, only 20% of the visually impaired are congenitally blind. The other 80% lose their sight later in life, often due to age-related conditions such as cataracts, diabetes or glaucoma. Most of those 80% are elderly people who have never been trained to read braille or raised letters. Would a group of the elderly blind with an average education who don't read braille score the same as the study's test subjects? The bottom line is that the study, which is the foundation of the new regulations, does not provide any conclusive evidence that these signage requirements are best for the general visually impaired public. Yet, the legislation is passed, and the new sign

regulations are the law of the land! It appears that the study was skewed from the beginning to support a preconceived notion among certain blind people that raised letters are better. Realistically speaking, there may be some truth to this notion, at least if the only "incised" letters the visually impaired person has experience with are improperly engraved. As a practical matter, until now there has never been any serious consideration given to the special needs of the visually impaired. That should change! Still, that is not a valid reason to outlaw incised characters based on a biased, slap-dash study. One of the most disturbing aspects of this study and the new law and regulations is that at no time during the process was our industry consulted or even informed as to what was taking place. Our products were tried and convicted in absentia, by a group using scant and questionable evidence. And, having had our products "outlawed," our industry must now pay the price: financial devastation! The staggering financial repercussions have already begun. One reader has reported submitting the winning bid for a $10,000 contract to redo the signage in a hospital. Upon hearing about the new law, the hospital then cancelled the project! So, the logical question is, "Where does it stand now?" Well, the fact of the matter is, although this is probably the first time most industry members are hearing about this, the law is passed, the regulations are finalized and they soon go into effect. After January 26,

any new construction or major renovations must have signage which complies with these laws. But you still owe it to yourself and the industry not to give up hope. Some current movements in the industry are organizing groups interested in protesting or appealing certain aspects of the law, but it's mainly been "all talk, no action." It will take more than an individual effort to work for modifications to the regulations. The entire industry must make a concerted effort if there is any hope for changes to be made. We at The Journal will do our best to keep you informed with the latest developments, so watch future issues for updates. There are materials available for you to educate yourself so that you have a better idea of all the implications. The ATBCB has copies of the accessibility guidelines for new construction and alterations (call 800-USA-ABLE). The Department of Justice has an ADA information package and is available to answer your questions (call 202-514-0301). The law itself (Public Law 101-336) is available from your senator or representative in Washington. The incredible fact about this law is that all these negative implications that it holds for the sign and engraving industry are disguised by the overall good aim of the law. Honestly, who wouldn't vote for more accessibility for the disabled? The law is good, the regulations are bad. Most of the Congressmen that voted for the law probably had little understanding of the technical sign terms included in the

sign regulations. It's up to us to pass the word on how ludicrous this really is. Maybe, if the engraving industry stands up to be counted, the far-reaching and detrimental effect that this has on our industry will change. But it is up to you to bring about this change!