When contracting for Braille signs to be placed in a new building is there a standard that dictates whether or not the Braille should be in uncontracted or contracted format. Also what is the rule about capitals? For example: MEN in braille could you do it in all in small letters (men) and do you need to use the contraction for "en"? I know in elevators en is used for open. what about rooms?
I'll give you the rules for braille as they appear in ADAAG (Federal), as they appear in California code, and as they appear in ANSI 1998 and 2003 and will most likely appear when the new ADA/ABA passes the DOJ hurdle. (This is now the 2004 ADA/ABA that has already been approved by the Access Board and one time by the DOJ).
Original ADAAG: There are no rules for braille other than that it must be contracted (Grade 2) Braille - so "yes" to your first question: All braille in the US on signs must be contracted braille.
California: Braille must have specific spacing of dots and cells and also dot height: 1/10 inch between dots (center to center), and 2/10 inch between cells - center of the dots in the second column to center of the dots in the first column of the next cell in the same word. Dots must be 1/40th inch high (.025). All braille must be contracted (Grade 2) Braille. Braille must be placed beneath the corresponding raised characters, centered or flush left, and spaced from 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch below the characters. It must have a rounded or domed shape, and be in a horizontal format.
ANSI and 2004 ADA/ABA: The California rules will pretty much be the new rules. Add to that, the braille should be lower case (no capital letter dots) UNLESS it is for an individual letter, initial letter of a proper name or sentence, or an acronym like "FBI."
Therefore, to type the braille to correspond to "MEN" you would type m5 on the keyboard -- lower case "m" followed by the contracted form for "en."
I hope this is helpful. Good luck with the signs.