It has been brought to our attention that several businesses have been served with legal action for non-compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. The purpose of this communication is to provide you with information pertaining to the Act. If your business has been served by legal action, please contact our Chamber office to register the action. We will investigate whether we can bring similar businesses together to pool your resources to benefit each other.
More than 50 million Americans—18% of our population—have disabilities, and each is a potential customer. People with disabilities are living more independently and participating more actively in their communities. They and their families want to patronize businesses that welcome customers with disabilities. In addition, approximately 71.5 million baby boomers will be over age 65 by the year 2030 and will be demanding products, services, and environments that meet their age-related physical needs. Studies show that once people with disabilities find a business where they can shop or get services in an accessible manner, they become repeat customers. Source: ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business –click here for pdf.
U.S. Small Business Administration / U.S. Department of Justice “ADA Guide for Small Businesses”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits the exclusion of people with disabilities from everyday activities, such as buying an item at the store, watching a movie in a theater, enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, exercising at the local health club or having the car serviced at a local garage. To meet the goals of the ADA, the law established requirements for private businesses of all sizes. These requirements first went into effect on January 26, 1992, and continue for both for-profit and non-profit organizations.
For small businesses, compliance with the ADA is not difficult. To help businesses with their compliance efforts, Congress established a technical assistance program to answer questions about the ADA. Answers to your questions about the ADA are a phone call away. The Department of Justice operates a toll-free ADA Information Line (800- 514-0301 voice and 800-514-0383 TDD). In addition, tax credits and deductions were established that can be used annually to offset any costs of providing access to people with disabilities.
In recognition that many small businesses cannot afford to make significant physical changes to their stores or places of business to provide accessibility to wheelchair users and other people with disabilities, the ADA has requirements for existing facilities built before 1993 that are less strict than for ones built after early 1993 or modified after early 1992.
Private businesses that provide goods or services to the public are called public accommodations in the ADA. The ADA establishes requirements for twelve categories of public accommodations, including stores and shops, restaurants and bars, service establishments, theaters, hotels, recreation facilities, private museums and schools, and others. Nearly all types of private businesses that serve the public are included in the categories, regardless of size. If you own, operate, lease, or lease to a business that serves the public, then, you are covered by the ADA and have obligations for existing facilities as well as for compliance when a facility is altered or a new facility is constructed. Existing facilities are not exempted by “grandfather provisions” that are often used by building code officials.
Commercial facilities, such as office buildings, factories, warehouses, or other facilities that do not provide goods or services directly to the public are only subject to the ADA’s requirements for new construction and alterations.
Source:U.S. Department of Justice – ADA Guide for Small Businesses –
Being proactive is the best way to ensure ADA compliance. Evaluate access at your facility, train your staff on the ADA’s requirements, think about the ADA when planning an alteration or construction of a new facility, and, most importantly, use the free information resources available whenever you have a question. Online Information for Business Owners, Property Owners and Consumers:
Having a business/property reviewed by a CASp shows that you care about ensuring equal access for all of your customers and that you intend to follow the law. The good-faith effort of hiring a CASp may lessen your liability and provide certain legal benefits if an accessibility claim is filed against you.