As a small business, you may be wondering what you have to do to make your company compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). First off, let’s explain what this is. This is a federal civil rights law that prohibits the exclusion of people with disabilities from everyday activities, such as purchasing groceries from the store, taking in a movie at the local theater, exercising at a health club or even riding the elevator within a business office. The law first went into effect back in 1992 and is designed for both non-profit and for-profit organizations, according to ADA.gov.
In most cases, complying with the ADA isn’t hard to do. You may have to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities if you are a business with more than 15 employees in most cases. Some provisions may not apply to you if you own a business with fewer than 15 employees and are in business less than 20 weeks per year.
In most cases, businesses that sell a product or service must comply with the ADA, such as shops, stores, restaurants, bars museums, theaters, hotels, and doctor’s offices. Many of these buildings were built before there were requirements to accommodate people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs or those who are visually impaired. It’s this lack of accessibility that makes it hard or impossible for people with disabilities to visit businesses, make purchases, go to work and school, or even go out to eat at a restaurant. It is possible for many small businesses to make small changes or retrofits that can make it easier for people with disabilities to go about their normal business. When financially reasonable, business should make all efforts to remove barriers to improve accessibility. Changes may include:
- Widening parking spaces to accommodate wheelchair vans (you need to provide one accessible parking space per 25 spaces, two for 50 spaces, etc.)
- Removing low awnings and awning supports to accommodate blind or visually impaired persons
- Installing edge protection, handrails, and wide landings at entrances
- Installing signs at inaccessible entrances directing those with disabilities to appropriate entrances
- Installing lever handles instead of round ones and new ramps where possible
- Incorporating take-out or curbside delivery as an alternative when an accessible entrance is not possible
- Changing or adding door hardware that is accessible, such as loop handles rather than handles with thumb latches or panel-type handles
- Installing lowered service counters in grocery stores and fast food establishments
If you have more questions about ADA compliance as it applies to your specific circumstances, please contact the Department of Justice’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800- 514-0301 voice and 800-514-0383 TDD. To learn more about how Mowrey Elevator is ADA compliant, call us at 800-432-2966 in Davie or 800-441-4449 in Marianna.