The Americans With Disabilities Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities who are going about the business of daily living.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five adults in the United States lives with a disability. ADA went into effect Jan. 26, 1992 and strives to make doing everyday things such as grocery shopping, working out at the gym, enjoying a movie at a theater and getting the car repaired easier for those with disabilities.
For business owners, ADA compliance generally means that your establishment makes “reasonable accommodations” to assist those with disabilities. This might mean
- Making minor changes to standard operating procedures.
- Welcoming service animals and mobility assistance devices.
- Establishing written policies on job accommodations, performance evaluations and disability-related absences or leaves.
Business owners might also have to change the way they communicate with customers and remove any physical barriers to existing structures, when readily feasible and without too much expense to become fully ADA compliant.
Other updates business owners should consider include:
- Widening parking spaces to accommodate wheelchair vans. In addition, a designated handicapped parking space must be provided for every 25 spaces in a parking lot.
- Getting rid of low awnings and supports in order to accommodate v the visually impaired.
- Putting in edge protection, handrails and wide landings at building entrances.
Signs should also be placed at inaccessible entrances directing those with disabilities to accessible entrances; lever handles and ramps should be installed where possible; and public bathrooms should be updated with stalls large enough to accommodate a wheelchair and guardrails.
If you own a restaurant, consider adding take-out or curbside dining to your menu as an alternative when providing a wheelchair accessible entrance is not possible. Lowered service counters in both restaurants and grocery stores can also make it easier for the disabled to enjoy their experience at your establishment and encourage them to become repeat customers.
Here’s one final idea on how to make your business ADA compliant without breaking your bank: Change or add door hardware that is accessible, such as loop handles instead of handles with thumb latches or panel-type handles. This will allow those who use a wheelchair or who have mobility issues to access your business.
Updating your business to ensure it is meeting ADA compliance requirements is not a matter of simply obeying the law. It is the right thing to do and can help your business grow. Simply ensure disabled persons can enjoy the benefits of your business by removing or modifying any barriers that make it difficult for them.