ARTICLE

Lober Dobson & Desai LLC
Attorneys at Law
Atlanta | Macon

Email: info@lddlawyers.com

ADA COMPLIANCE FOR SMALL BUSINESS

Like many other issues in the law, as a small business owner, you are far better off knowing what you are up against, rather than learning how to tackle the issue once you have been hit with a law suit. The Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect on January 26, 1992 and effects both for-profit and non-for-profit organizations. You should be concerned about learning how the ADA applies to you if your business or organization falls under one of twelve separate categories of public accommodation, including:

  • Stores and Shops
  • Restaurants and Bars
  • Service Establishments
  • Theaters
  • Hotels
  • Recreation Facilities
  • Museums
  • Schools

The ADA went into effect over 15 years ago, yet many small business owners are not aware of what the Act entails or requires. Unfortunately, many small businesses have learned the hard way in recent years as there are a growing number of organizations and individuals who are bringing suit against these small business establishments for not being in compliance with ADA guidelines. The ADA applies to facilities built from 1993 onwards and also to those facilities that were modified after early 1992.

However, if your facility was built prior to 1993, you are not exempt from the ADA standards. Instead, you are still required to make modifications per the Act but the requirements for doing so are less strict. The types of “physical barriers” you must remove if you are an older facility depend heavily on what types of changes are “readily achievable” by you as the business owner. Readily achievable means the changes required by the ADA can be achieved by you without too much difficulty or expense. For more information on what ADA regulations you must abide by, you should contact a local ADA expert or consultant for advice.

The Act’s purpose is to prohibit the exclusion of people with disabilities from enjoying everyday activities. The most costly areas that the Act regulates are for removal of architectural barriers which includes:

  • Having Enough Parking Spaces for Those in Wheelchairs
  • Ramps to Access Areas Inside or Outside of the Facility
  • Wide Aisles in Stores and Other Establishments to Allow Wheelchairs Access
  • Lower Counters
  • Wheelchair Accessible Restrooms
  • Accessible Entrances

While, the ADA standards are strict, they are not all costly. There are some simple measures a business owner can take to be more compliant with ADA regulations including putting handicap accessible signs near restrooms; offering menus in Braille or having employees available to explain items on a menu or products at a store to those who are visually impaired; widening paths so that they are wheelchair accessible; changing door handles; adding grab bars in restrooms, etc.

Not only will a business owner steer clear of legal trouble by abiding with ADA regulations, but the business will also be able to cater to those disabled clients that would be prohibited from enjoying the services of that business without the removals of barriers and other minor changes. Finally, as an additional incentive, the federal government has established certain tax deductions and credits that may be available for making properties ADA compliant.

If you were uninformed about the ADA guidelines and have been sued due to the inaccessible nature of your facility, contact an attorney immediately. Even if you think you can settle the case, you may be responsible for the attorney’s fees incurred by the other party, which are often in the tens of thousands.

For additional information regarding whether your business falls under the requirements of the ADA or what types of changes may be necessary to your facility, there are a number of outlets that offer information and additional resources.

The Department of Justice has a toll free ADA informational line (800-514-0031) and a website

You can also look to the “ADA Standards for Accessible Design” as a guide

 


 

 

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