If you have a small business that’s open to the public, you need to make sure you meet the ADA requirements.
It’s partly about meeting legal requirements. But the new ADA requirements offer accessibility improvements that are good for business, any way you look at it.
It can have some great advantages for your business. We explain them here. We also let you know what you can do to make sure your business meets all the handicap accessible laws.
Read on to learn more about it.
Why You Want to Be Disability-Friendly
The ADA law now requires you to be more disability-friendly to staff and customers. But there are a ton of reasons why you should be doing this anyway. Let’s take a look.
If you have a physical business location, you make money the more people come through the door. Right?
Allowing more people to physically enter the building helps you, then.
There are 3.3 million wheelchair users in the US. The number is expected to continue to rise. This is due to the aging population and the rise in chronic illness.
If someone offered you a way to extend your business to a whole new segment, we imagine you’d be interested. This is your opportunity.
People buy from those they trust. We tend to buy from companies who share our values. Social psychologists say people buy what you believe not what you make.
If you are visually accessible to those with a disability, it tells people you believe in equality and diversity.
Those that share your humanitarian values will want to buy anything you sell!
Bigger Recruitment Pool
Ever been halfway through an uninspiring recruitment round and wished you had more competitive or qualified candidates? By making the workplace wheelchair and disability-friendly, you just got yourself a bigger talent pool.
The other staff advantage is that companies with diverse teams are more successful.
They make more money. They have more focus. They produce more innovative ideas.
These are just a few of the reasons why it pays off to make your company more disability-friendly. For staff and customers.
Now let’s take a look at what the new ADA requirements say you are required to do, by law. Then we’ll give you some practical advice on how you can do it.
What Is the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is an addition to the law. It asks that businesses make “reasonable accommodations” to improve access to staff and customers.
It is to benefit those people in our community with qualified disabilities.
Businesses that employ less than 15 people are exempt from some portions of the Act. There are also provisions of the Act that apply to companies providing services to the public.
Regardless of size.
What Does It Mean for My Small Business?
If you own a small business, title I and title III are the elements of the ADA most important to you.
Title II only applies to state or local government entities.
As with anything in the law, there are some exemptions. And these might develop over time as the ADA is tested.
Who Does Title I Apply To?
This title of the Act applies to qualified employers. It requires eligible businesses to provide equal employment-related opportunities to individuals with disabilities.
Companies must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. So that they can carry out the duties of their role.
It applies to businesses employing:
– more than 15 fulltime staff each workday
– in a commercial industry, and
– people engaged in business for a least 20 weeks each year.
You can see lawmakers have made every effort to reduce costs for those that can least afford it. Micro businesses or those not operating for a large period each year need not worry.
Exceptions also exist for businesses owned by:
– a recognized Native American Tribe
– a private club, or
a religious organization
Who Does Title III Apply To?
Title III applies to public and private entities that provide goods or services to the public. It requires that these places not discriminate against customers based on disability.
Public accommodations cover 12 categories, such as: malls, doctor and dental clinics, theaters and hotels, restaurants and bars, stores and shops, private schools and museums.
Almost any business that serves the public falls under the title III rule. The ADA made private clubs and religious organizations exempt, as with title I.
How to Comply with Handicap Accessible Laws
The ADA asks businesses to make all reasonable efforts to accommodate people with disabilities. It might mean, for example, that you allow service dogs to enter your establishment.
If you are able to remove barriers without much difficulty or expense, you must do so.
The authorities will take into account the resources of the business in determining what is ‘readily achievable’. Larger, more profitable businesses will need to make a bigger effort and investment.
Make Your Business Disability-Friendly
There are physical and social ways to make your establishment more accessible to those with a disability. Here are quick some suggestions:
- Tell staff that you expect them to accommodate people with a disability
- Run a staff meeting or information session on respectful disability language
- Offer free language-for-the-deaf classes to any interested staff
- Replace steps with ramps
- Use lever-style doorknobs instead of round doorknobs
- Put high and low coat hooks in bathroom stalls
- Design bathroom and other spaces with advice from a disabilities advisory group
- Avoid having cabinets under sinks – it means people in a wheelchair can’t get all the way to the sink
- Have an accessible website that follows computer accessibility best practice
- If your business is a restaurant, consider wide and uncluttered aisles to allow wheelchair users to move through the area safely
- Install automatic doors
- Use braille on any signage around the public areas of your business establishment
Get Creative and Get Input
It’s a lot to get used to.
Like in any other area of your business, when it’s not your specialty you should speak to the experts. Put signs around the establishment that announce your goal to be accessible.
Have customers with special needs email their suggestions for further improvements.
They can often be small adjustments. Like the bathroom coat hook levels discussed above. Things you wouldn’t be aware of without having special needs.
Let your staff and customers give you their ideas and be open and adopt them wherever workable.
Find the Opportunity in Change
We know that legal requirements can at times feel particular costly and unfair for small businesses. But this is one change you want to get the jump on.
Use this legal requirement as an opportunity to effect positive change. To be a part of your community. To benefit in terms of staff and profits.
Get some expert advice on how to best follow handicap accessible laws. Be a leader of diversity and accessibility when you Get ADA Accessible. Because anything worth doing is worth doing well.
If you liked this article and want more advice for your small business, we’ve got you covered. You can find advice on picking a web designer, dealing with underperforming staff, and everything in-between.
Check out our website for more!