Federal Civil Rights Law
The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into federal law back in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA legislation is considered a federal civil rights law, designed to protect people with disabilities against discrimination in all public spaces.
The Americans with Disabilities Act covers people with disabilities in having equal employment opportunities and in having accessibility to public accommodations and information. It also includes all local, state, and federal government agencies and organizations, as well as public transportation.
The ADA applies to any public accommodation, which is basically any business with 15 or more full-time employees, with few exceptions. It is designed to give people with disabilities accessibility to the same opportunities as everyone else and make services and jobs available to this population.
A revision to the Act in 2010 details accessible design standards in architecture which apply to all commercial buildings. As of 2011, all new construction for any business is built with these guidelines. For any older businesses, without undue hardship, must make the necessary changes to become ADA compliant.
Title II and Title III
Title II of the Act refers to discrimination in state and local governments, including public transportation authorities, regardless of whether they receive financial assistance or not. Title III prohibits discrimination of people with disabilities in places of public accommodation.
The Department of Justice is one of the multiple entities which enforce non-compliant businesses in meeting accessibility standards, thus ensuring businesses know the importance of ADA compliance. There are stiff fines in place for even first-time violations and up to $150,000 for each additional violation.
ADA Compliant Websites
Recently there has been a surge in lawsuits in multiple states against many businesses for not having an ADA compliant website, thus not fully accessible to those with disabilities. Since website accessibility is not directly addressed within the ADA standards, state courts are left to decide these cases, with lawyers claiming denied access to public information.
The general consensus in the evolving legislation thus far has simply been if the business has a physical location, it must also have an accessible website to be ADA compliant. This has led to the World Wide Web Consortium's subsequent development of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG.
Web Accessibility and Assistive Technology
ADA-compliant websites should follow these WCAG standards for web content and mobile apps. Companies should employ web developers to redesign their websites, as many of the changes necessary are built-in codes and interfaces.
Visual impairments such as blindness or low vision are common in the aging population. Many people with disabilities like these, or certain cognitive disabilities, use screen readers or screen reading software. A screen reader for the visually impaired does more than just read text on the screen.
When there's a picture or an image or visual cue, your site designer will implement text called alt text, to either describe images or skip over them when using this assistive technology. Web content should provide alternatives, giving users with disabilities multiple ways to access information on your site.
ADA Compliance - Why It's Important
ADA compliance is important because it's mandatory by federal law, for one thing. Not only can businesses be fined over $100,000 per violation, but they also open themselves up for lawsuits and bad publicity. In addition, ADA compliance is important to the disabled community, providing access to your services and/or products online, as well as in person.
Most importantly, having an ADA compliant website means more traffic, which means more profitability.
People supporting the employment of those with disabilities often support socially responsible businesses. These are companies known to offer this population the same opportunities when hiring. Socially responsible businesses, without fail, follow all ADA standards and offer web accessibility, making them ADA compliant. These businesses have more customers, as they've opened the door to one quarter more of the U.S. population, for those with disabilities.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers different tax write-offs for businesses that are becoming disability-friendly, so to speak. One is called the disabled access credit and offers up to $5000 for expenses incurred improving accessibility for persons with disabilities. This includes expenses incurred making websites accessible.
For businesses who hire people with disabilities, there's a tax credit offered called the work opportunity credit. Hiring someone with a disability can get you up to the first $6000 on the first-year wages of that person. As you can see, becoming ADA compliant is not only required, but for businesses, it should be a no-brainer. It's just a smart, sound financial decision.
Other Reasons ADA Compliance Is Important
You may be surprised to know that in the United States alone, 26% of adults have a disability. That's one in four people! The ADA guidelines were originally designed with the basic freedoms of what it means to be an American in mind. It should mean freedom from discrimination for any reason, and equal opportunities for all people.
No one chooses to have a disability, and anyone can have or get one. Whether born with a disability or having an accident that results in one, and whether temporary or permanent, a more inclusive approach and attitude are slowly being incorporated into our society. There are so many reasons why ADA compliance is important, but how about simply because it's the right thing to do?
When making your physical location ADA compliant, you'll need a source for ADA signage. ADA Central is the authority on all things related to redesigning your business to be in ADA compliance. We have a huge stock inventory of ADA-compliant signs, and we also do custom ADA signs.
You can even check the box for an expedited order, and we will get the job done fast, for less. We do quality, professional work and can answer any questions you have regarding required signage, sign placement, or any other design requirements. ADA Central — check out our homepage right here on this website today!