Community Engagement in ADA Compliance

Posted by Ryan Brennan on Jan 15th 2024

Community Engagement in ADA Compliance

Community Engagement in ADA Compliance

When communities thrive, so do the people who inhabit them. And when people are thriving, they’re more likely to give back to their community and reciprocate their good fortunes to those who need it most.

It’s a beautiful cycle, but how do we achieve it?

With a greater investment in community engagement – that’s how.

Community engagement is the metaphorical bridge connecting community members with local and state governments, community-based organizations, and other community partners. Without it, communities would fall apart.

It’s what makes us feel heard – and seen. It’s what gives us a sense of belonging – like we matter, which we do! And it gives us a voice, but also a room full of ears that are willing to listen – willing to change.

If you want your community (and your people) to thrive, it starts and ends with community engagement!

The Importance of Community Engagement for People With Disabilities

More than 60 million adults live with a disability in the United States – making up roughly 23% of the adult population, or roughly 1 in 4 adults. That includes those with hearing, vision, cognitive, walking, speaking, and other disabilities. That’s a lot of people, but what does that have to do with community engagement?

Well, as much as people with disabilities would love to take part in their community, they often can’t (or at least not comfortably) because not enough steps are being taken to include them.

Entering and exiting public spaces, getting from one floor to the next, navigating their way through a park or building – these things are difficult for someone with a disability. Whether they’re blind, hard of hearing, or confined to a wheelchair – they need help, and it needs to come from the community around them.

That’s where the ADA comes into play.

The ADA, also known as the Americans with Disabilities Act, is a first-of-its-kind civil rights law signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Prior to this law, there was nothing protecting the rights of people with disabilities – but the ADA changed that, effectively prohibiting discrimination based on disability.

How the ADA Ensures an Inclusive & Collaborative Environment for Everyone

The ADA was created with one goal in mind – to make this world just as accessible and inclusive to those with a disability as to those without a disability. To do that, the community (as a whole) needed to change.

What’s the best way to enact change? Make it the law.

It didn’t take long for communities across the country to see the lasting effect the ADA was having on some of their most vulnerable populations. Here’s a look at how it benefited people with disabilities:

Recruiting and hiring. Businesses can’t deny someone a job opportunity because they’re disabled – in fact, they can’t even ask on an application whether the applicant is disabled or not.

Reasonable accommodations. The workplace needs to be tailored to meet the exact and specific needs of people with disabilities – from the ADA signage to the technology, desks, and workspace.

Public transportation. Everything from bus stops on the side of the road to airports and airplanes flying high in the air, people with disabilities deserve the same access to public transportation as anyone else.

Acceptance and respect. With the ADA in place, people with disabilities generally feel more accepted and respected in the workplace – allowing them to feel more comfortable with those around them.

The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to virtually every place of public accommodation – including parks, retail stores, restaurants, schools, amusement parks, hotels, doctor’s offices, movie theatres, state and local government facilities, and practically any business (open to the public) with 15+ employees.

ADA Compliance Tips for the Workplace

More than 60% of employers in the US have witnessed discrimination of some sort in their current or past workplace, according to a report by Glassdoor. What’s even more alarming is that more than 37% of workplace discrimination claims in the US are a result of disability discrimination.

That makes disability the most commonly reported type of discrimination in the US today.

The need for a more inclusive and supportive work environment is obvious – in fact, it’s the law. Here are some things you can do to ensure your company maintains ADA compliance:

  • Ensure managers and executives are trained in ADA compliance
  • Write clear, concise, and detailed handbooks and policies
  • Effective communication is key to creating opportunities for every community member
  • Only request medical documentation when necessary
  • Provide a safe space and encourage full participation
  • Design and install ADA signage wherever needed

Not complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act results in some serious consequences – including up to a $75,000 fine for a first violation, and $150,000 for a second violation. Of course, that doesn’t include state and local fines (which can be even harsher) and reputation lost from civil lawsuits.

ADA Compliance Tips for Other Public Areas

Aside from businesses, the ADA also applies to other areas frequented by people with disabilities – such as schools, parks, government-owned properties, playgrounds, bus stops, public events, and more. Since disabilities impact an individual’s life in virtually every way, they must be protected everywhere they go.

The ADA provides that protection – and it does so in a variety of ways!

A thriving community understands how important these areas are to an individual’s quality of life. Here are some of the ways we can make these areas a little more inclusive for everyone:

  • Make sure walkways are wide enough for wheelchairs – and always include ramps!
  • Don’t forget about handicapped parking – and make public restrooms more accessible!
  • Make sure paths to and from an entrance or exit are easily accessible – and clear of obstruction!
  • Utilize proper ADA signage throughout the property – making it much easier to navigate!

Achieving compliance is one thing, but maintaining compliance is a completely different story – especially with rules and regulations changing every year. If you’re struggling to keep up, don’t panic – we can help!

ADA Central is Your One-Stop Shop for ADA-Compliant Signage

At ADA Central, we specialize in one of the most important aspects of ADA compliance – ADA signage. Everything from those signs in front of your bathroom to the ones directing employees, customers, and guests throughout your building, we have a sign for just about any purpose – just tell us what you need!

You can contact us by phone at (308) 221-8226, by email at, or by filling out our online form – click here.

Our custom signs can help you avoid hefty fees and penalties while passing those pesky inspections and maintaining your reputation as an inclusive company. We assist our clients from start to finish, ensuring they understand what ADA compliance means and when it’s necessary. Contact us today to learn more!