Quinnipiac yet to replace more than 200 inaccessible braille signs

Cat Murphy, Staff Writer

More than 240 Braille signs on Quinnipiac University’s Mount Carmel campus do not comply with the accessibility standards defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, an investigation conducted by The Chronicle revealed.

The sign for School of Business room 111 has braille that is worn off and illegible. (Cat Murphy)

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in places of public accommodation, including colleges and universities. The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design require all signs identifying “permanent rooms and spaces” to feature tactile letters and corresponding Braille text. 

Braille, defined by the American Foundation for the Blind as a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers, makes public accommodations accessible to individuals who are blind or who have low vision.

However, The Chronicle discovered that at least 104 signs in the Ledges Residence Hall, including several signs identifying exits and stairwells, have inaccessible or missing Braille text. Although the majority of the inaccessible signs in the dormitory building feature worn or broken Braille dots, some lack Braille text altogether.

The university declined to make a representative from the Office of Student Accessibility available for comment.

In one instance, a sign missing half of its Braille dots spells “into have,” instead of the intended “storage.” The sign, located outside of a fourth-floor storage closet in the Ledges, also does not feature a room number. Rather, the closet’s room number is denoted above the tactile characters in permanent marker.

An investigation by The Chronicle revealed that the sign for a storage closet in Ledges Residence Hall does not correctly spell out “storage” or contain Braille for the closets room number, 426.

However, the lack of accessible signage extends beyond the freshman residence hall. Two restrooms in the Arnold Bernhard Library and two classrooms in the School of Business also lack accessible Braille signage. The signs identifying the restrooms located outside of OneStop in the library lack Braille text altogether. The Braille dots on the sign located outside of room SB-111 appear to have fallen off, and the sign located outside of room SB-110 features non-tactile Braille dots that are not raised.

The Chronicle discovered over 40 similar non-tactile signs, including several signs identifying exits, stairwells and restrooms, in the Recreation and Wellness Center. In one instance, a non-tactile sign is attached to a restroom door with clear tape.

A non-tactile sign, which cannot be read using one’s fingers, is attached to the door of a bathroom in the Recreation and Wellness Center with tape. (Cat Murphy)


John Pettit, associate director of public relations, said last month that the non-tactile signs are “temporary paper versions” in the process of being replaced. 

Tator Hall room 315 contains no Braille signage. (Cat Murphy)

“New Braille signs have been ordered, but are backlogged due to supply chain issues,” Pettit wrote in an email on Aug. 1. “We are hoping to receive and install new Braille signs this month.”

However, ADA regulations define a temporary sign as one which is in use for less than seven days.

Although the university has replaced several other non-tactile signs in the School of Business, including the signs located outside of SB-113 and SB-115, The Chronicle’s investigation revealed that the sign identifying SB-110 has remained in place since at least July. It is not clear how long ago the non-tactile signs were installed in the Recreation and Wellness Center.

ADA regulations also establish mounting height requirements for tactile signage. Tactile signs must be mounted a minimum of 48 inches from the ground surface to the baseline of the lowest tactile character and a maximum of 60 inches from the ground surface to the baseline of the highest tactile character, according to ADA regulations.

The Chronicle discovered that more than 100 signs across the Mount Carmel campus do not comply with these height requirements.

The ADA requires Braille signs to be a minimum of 48 inches from the ground to the baseline of the lowest tactile character and a maximum of 60 inches from the ground to the baseline of the highest tactile character. (Cat Murphy)

A minimum of 58 signs in Tator Hall and 26 signs in the College of Arts and Sciences Center are mounted more than 60 inches from the floor to the baseline of the highest tactile character.

The tactile signs in Tator Hall are not compliant with current ADA regulations but are compliant with the applicable 1991 Standards for Accessible Design, which stipulated that Braille signage must be mounted 60 inches “above the finish floor to the centerline of the sign.”

The majority of the tactile signs in the Commons also fail to comply with ADA height parameters.

An additional five signs in the Center for Communications and Engineering, including the sign identifying the Mount Carmel auditorium in CCE-101, are located more than the maximum 60 inches above the ground.

The location of another sign in CCE does not comply with ADA standards requiring tactile signs identifying single doors to be installed “alongside the door at the latch side.”

Although ADA standards permit signs to be installed on the nearest adjacent wall if there is not enough wall space on the latch side, the sign identifying CCE-131 is affixed to the door rather than to an adjacent wall. ADA regulations stipulate that a tactile sign can be installed directly on a door only if the door closes automatically and does not feature hold-open devices.

In a separate instance of non-compliance, a paper sign remained in use for at least four weeks. As recently as Aug. 28, CCE-205E was identified only by a handwritten paper sign taped to a nearby wall. Although the makeshift sign appears to have since been removed, the university has yet to install a permanent room sign in its place.

Center for Communications and Engineering 225E has a paper sign identifying its classroom number, which does not comply with ADA requirements. (Cat Murphy)

Section 2.06 of Quinnipiac’s 2022-2023 Guidelines and Procedures for Students with Disabilities addresses visual disabilities but does not address the availability of Braille on campus.

“Our ADA coordinators work directly with students who choose to disclose a disability,” the university states on its website. “We honor both the spirit and the letter of the laws that apply to students with disabilities.”

CORRECTION 11/5: A previous version of this story said that signs in Tator Hall were noncompliant with current ADA height guidelines but did not mention that they are compliant with height standards from 1991.