Well, now is the time to kickoff the AccuBraille blog. Our goal is to build this space into a destination for valuable resources related to all things architectural signage. First up, we have the story of how owner Mark Unterbach has come to share a passion for developing quality ADA compliant products. This post also includes the history of how the AccuBraille brand has grown into what it is today.
The History of AccuBraille
Written By: Mark Unterbach
My earliest memory of Braille began as a boy growing up in New York. From the time I was born, my mother was blind as a result of diabetes. Every week she received a newspaper from Lighthouse for The Blind and Visually Impaired. These newspapers were written in Braille and many times she would explain the characters and read the stories out loud to me.
In 2002, I learned of San Francisco based Garnett Sign Studio. The company began in 1946 as an engraving company that specialized in working with projects for the defense industry. They moved into manufacturing architectural signage starting in 1992. This was around the same time that the Americans with Disabilities Act began requiring tactile text and Braille to be included on signs. The following year, Garnett formed the AccuBraille division. The primary focus was placed on designing and manufacturing Braille labels for bank ATM machines and vending machines. This was a revolutionary product that was released as the standard was still being defined and led them into becoming the largest supplier in the United States.
Prior to my acquisition of Garnett Sign Studio in 2003, ATM labels had fallen by the wayside to Talking ATM’s. This transition drastically reduced AccuBraille’s impact on Garnett’s revenue. The company now began making Braille signs using the raster method of inserting small Braille beads into holes that had been drilled into a plastic or metal plaque. The next step was to apply the text using plastic letters with tape.
In 2004, we invested in equipment to fabricate ADA signs using photopolymer plates. This method uses a polymer plate that is attached to a substrate that is typically phenolic or PETG. The plate is then covered with a film positive while exposing the area that is to remain tactile. This area is now exposed to an ultraviolet light which is housed within a processing unit for 15 minutes. The next step has the plate moved to a washing machine where the unexposed surface is washed away. This leaves only the raised text and flat Braille. It is then baked for 20 minutes before being cut down and having a painted finish applied.
While the process did offer an integral text character, the Braille did not have have the required domed Braille. However, applying the proper coat of paint does give it the correct appearance. A major issue that we learned is that it breaks down in certain environmental conditions. These conditions include, but not limited to, moisture and direct sunlight for extended periods of time. In 2008, we began researching alternatives to the photopolymer process. Following extensive research, including experimentation, we discovered the thermoforming process. This process utilizes extreme pressure and regulated temperature. With this process we are able to use a form and press acrylic to create the perfect 100% ADA compliant sign. After spending 2 years in research and development, we brought AccuBraille back to once again revolutionize the industry with a thermoformed line of ADA signs. AccuBraille is the only one piece compliant ADA sign that offers a five year warranty. We offer the signs painted or RTF (Ready To Finish) and are confident that it is the perfect solution for your next project.
To learn more about AccuBraille please visit AccuBraille.com.