Like it or not, as a business owner you are responsible for remaining compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law, in a nutshell, requires compliance to make your facilities accessible to the disabled, but it isn’t until someone sues you citing the ADA that things get really expensive. The best tactic is to try to avoid these lawsuits before they happen. The good news: As a small business owner you may also qualify for tax credits by making the necessary changes.
ADA compliance issues can get confusing (consult an attorney if you have any questions), but here are a few basic tips to help keep you out of the courtroom. You may not be able to take all of these steps without spending a fortune, but the more you can get done, the less likely you are to face a lawsuit.
- 1) Have your business checked by an ADA qualified inspector. They can provide you with a report that lists any known issues.
- 2) Barriers that block access for disabled persons to pass through should be removed. Check entrances to make sure accessible equipment is in working order, including elevators, automatic door openers, and wheelchair lifts.
- 3) Offer to come to customers who are physically unable to come to your location. Conveniently place these notices where they are visible to the public. This will show that you are making an effort to meet the needs of your customers even if your building isn’t up to code.
- 4) Ensure handicapped parking is clearly marked and close to the facilities. Ensure the spaces are large enough so wheelchairs can maneuver around easily.
- 5) Washrooms must allow for handicapped access; designate washrooms or stalls for the handicapped equipped with grab bars.
- 6) Have soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers placed at a height of 48 inches off the floor. This is actually convenient for everyone (including children), not just disabled customers. All bathroom equipment should require minimal effort to operate: specifically, less than five pounds of force.
- 7) Entrance doors are required to be at least 36 inches wide and have 32 inches of space when open, the standard for most modern doors. Doors that don’t meet this requirement may have to be replaced. (Updated.)
- 8) If you have a sales or service counter check that it is no higher than 36 inches tall. If this isn’t feasible, designate an area where handicapped shoppers can receive assistance.