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  ADA Color Contrast Charts

The complete ADA Standards for Accessible Design can be downloaded here.

The following documents are provided as a guide to ADA contrast ONLY and is not legally binding. Rowmark established these guides using the U.S. Department of Justice ADA Standards for Accessible Design Title III, section 4.30.5, which reads:

"*4.30.5 Finish and Contrast. The characters and background of signs shall be eggshell, matte, or other non-glare finish. Characters and symbols shall contrast with their background --either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background."

Please consult with the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that your signs are ADA compliant. Website:
Phone: 800-514-0301

The following guides are provided by using the Light Reflectance Value measurement. See below for more information about Light Reflectance.
Charts by Product Line
ADA Alternative appliqué/ADA Alternative substrate
ADA Alternative appliqué/ColorCast Acrylics substrate
ADA Alternative appliqué/Ultra-Mattes Reverse Engravable substrate
ADA Alternative appliqué/Ultra-Mattes Front Engravable substrate
Ultra-Mattes Reverse appliqué/ADA Alternative substrate
Ultra-Mattes Reverse appliqué/ColorCast Acrylics substrate
Ultra-Mattes Reverse appliqué/Ultra-Mattes Reverse substrate
Ultra-Mattes Reverse appliqué/Ultra-Mattes Front substrate

As a courtesy to our customers, Rowmark provides are findings for Light Reflectance Value of our Rowmark ADA compliant materials.

Light Reflectance Measurement of Rowmark Materials

Light Reflectance Value, or LRV, is a measurement of the percentage of light that is reflected (and conversely how much is absorbed) from a color (surface) when illuminated by a light source.  LRV runs on a scale from 0% to 100%. Zero is assumed to be absolute black and 100% being perfectly white.  An absolute black or perfectly reflecting white do not exist in our everyday terms. The average blackest black has a LRV of approximately 5% and the whitest white is approximately 85%.

Contrast is a calculation of the difference between the LRV between the foreground color and the background color.  The current recommendation for detectable warning surfaces is a contrast ratio of at least 70%.  Contrast Ratio is determined by the formula:
Contrast = [(B1-B2)/B1] x 100.
B1 = LRV of the lighter color
B2 = LRV of the darker color

The LRV Test
LRV is measured with color measurement equipment, specifically a spectrophotometer.  The value of the LRV is a measured result for each color.   The spectrophotometer will measure a “Y” value which is equal to one of the three CIE tristimulus values and essentially measures the luminous reflectance (LRV) or transmittance (absorption) of a color.  The “Y” value is used in the above calculation to determine the Contrast Ration between two colors.  Y = B in the calculation.

Test Results
This test does not produce pass or fail results.  The scale of results varies from 0 (black) to 100 (white); however most materials will fall well within these extremes.  Most guidelines suggest that a Contrast Ratio of 70% is

This test is not suitable for some surfaces; therefore care must be taken when applying the test and its results. For example, some surface finishes are effectively mirrors, which have no lightness of their own but merely reflect the environment in which they are placed.