What ADA Law Entails
The ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is a civil rights law that originally passed in 1990. The law keeps anyone with a disability from being discriminated against in any place of public business. This includes but is not limited to: jobs, schools, transportation, and any public or private place that is open to the general public. The purpose of this declaration is to give everyone, including those with disabilities, the same opportunities and privileges or rights as anyone else. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. These rights also include access to online information and any online or other business with 15 or more full-time employees. What exactly does this mean to you, as a business? For one thing, it means you must be what's called "ADA Compliant".
What Is ADA Compliance
So exactly what is ADA compliance? The law is a little vague on specifics, but if your business has 15 or more full-time employees and is open more than 20 weeks a year, you must be ADA Compliant or face stiff fines and penalties, not to mention leaving yourself open and ripe for lawsuits. The law states businesses must make "reasonable accommodations" for those with disabilities, both in the physical business location as well as in policy adjustments. One in five people have a disability as of 2015, so this represents a large part of the population. Though there is not a definite checklist for businesses to know if they're ADA compliant, they are urged to think about how persons with disabilities interact with their business and make necessary changes to accommodate them. The cost of making alterations may entitle a business to a tax credit, and the usual business-related expense deduction, of course.
How Do I Make My Business ADA Compliant
In order to make sure your business is ADA compliant, business owners are urged to hire an ADA compliance expert and undergo an ADA compliance audit. This will ensure minimized risk of an ADA lawsuit, eligibility for reduced penalties if sued, and protection against slip-and-fall lawsuits. You can do this by finding an ADA center or a nearby accessibility consulting organizations such as Meeting the Challenge, as they offer accessibility audits, technical assistance, design review, policy and procedure advice, and training options. Since 2015 over 240 businesses in America have been sued in federal court for compliance issues, so don't wait for something bad to happen before taking the necessary precautions.
What Kind Of Alterations Do I Need To Make
Some of these reasonable accommodations include:
- Having written policies on job accommodations, performance expectations, and disability-related leaves or absences
- Making minor adjustments to standard operating procedures
- Allowing service animals and mobility devices
- Adjusting the mode of communication with customers
- Removing physical barriers to existing structures when readily achievable
- Posting the appropriate signage within your business to direct persons with disabilities to the areas they may need to access
- Making labelled parking spaces for handicapped persons, with appropriate signage
Some areas are more prone to being overlooked than others, also, such as:
- Lack of access into the building, such as: a slope that’s too steep
- Lack of a ramp and/or grab bar, lack of clearance space for wheelchairs,
- Lack of signs to accessible doors
- Doors as barriers, such as: five pounds of pressure or too much of a lip
- Lack of space to navigate wheelchairs
- Lack of access within the building
- Surfaces or appliances that are too high
- Bathrooms: lack of adequate signage; stalls with not enough space for a wheelchair; grab bars that are non-existent or out of compliance; mirrors that are too high; a sink, toilet or dryer that is too high
- Lack of ADA compliant signs
When you think about it, the cost of making these alterations is minimal, especially considering the possible cost and impact on your business if you were to be sued for not having them in place. Although it can seem a bit overwhelming at first, becoming ADA compliant is the right thing to do and it is good for your business as well. For additional information, see our ADA Sign Installation Guidelines page.
Utilize ADA Business Specialists And ADA Resources
When you are ready to start making the changes to your business for ADA compliance, be sure to utilize business resources and specialists that are set up specifically for ADA compliance needs, such as using a construction company that specializes in wheelchair ramp construction, etc. By using these experienced and knowledgeable companies that deal with helping businesses to become ADA compliant, you are less likely to incur any additional problems that could set you back. There are also many different resources set up to assist in these exact situations, so contact an ADA Center near you if you need assistance.
ADA Compliant Signs
ADA Central is a perfect choice when finding a business that specializes in ADA signage. Having the appropriate signs is a big part of ADA compliance, and there are specific legal requirements for ADA signs, as well. These are things that only a place who specifically designs this type of sign would know. Once your alterations have been made to ensure that your business is ADA compliant, don't make the mistake of posting signs that are not. Seemingly small details such as these can make all the rest of what you have done for nothing, especially if that becomes the reason you fail an audit, or worse. ADA compliant signs must also meet very specific guidelines in where they are posted, how they are posted and how they are designed and constructed. The font they use, size of the letters, colors and background all matter when making ADA compliant signs. Trust these things only to a company like ADA Central, who specializes in the fabricating of such ADA signage, and has extensive knowledge and experience in this realm. If you are getting your business ready to be ADA compliant, don't forget to include the appropriate signage. Set your business standards high, and be an example for other businesses everywhere by becoming ADA compliant today.