10 Reasons Your Business Should be ADA Compliant
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It’s true – trying to be compliant with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act can mean extra work and expense. You may question whether or not it is really worth trying to work with the ADA standards, but there are a number of reasons why compliance to this law is the only option.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a regulation that ensures that places of public accommodation are accessible to people regardless of ability. It is a landmark law in the United States enforced by the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
There are five Titles composing the Americans with Disabilities Act. Title I is for employment, specifically applying to private employers with 15 or more employees, and state and local government agencies that have 15 or more employees as well. Title II of the ADA is for public entities covering state and local government services, while Title III is for public accommodation including commercial facilities.
Whether businesses old and new provide goods or services, they are places of public accommodation and should therefore make sure that they are adhering to the ADA. This law was passed not just for the benefit of persons with disabilities but for the benefit of the public as a whole.
Here are 10 reasons why facilities should be ADA compliant.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a law on the federal level meant to protect everyone with disabilities from discrimination. The U. S. Department of Justice sets the accessibility standards for ADA compliance. They monitor all businesses to comply with requirements for accessible design which means that as long as you are offering goods and services in the United States, these standards apply to you. If someone with a disability feels that you did not work to make your services accessible to them, they can file a complaint that may reach the court. Public entities that the DOJ finds in violation of the ADA standards can be penalized up to $150,000.
Information from the U. S. Census Bureau suggests that almost 1 in 5 have some sort of disability. Furthermore, according to the disability-rights group The Association of People Supporting Employment First customers with disabilities and their families constitute a more than $3 trillion market segment. It is clearly foolish not to include such a large and significant section in any potential customer base.
Not only is the disability community large, but it is also growing. Advances in medical technology mean that life expectancy is getting higher and we are more likely to recover and thrive from old conditions. This means that more covered individuals are going to need the accommodations protected by the ADA. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by 2020, 157 million Americans will be living with a chronic illness.
Often, the disability community is very tight-knit, because people with related physical challenges tend to stick together. If one person with a disability has a positive experience with a site, he or she is very likely to encourage other people to become customers as well. Many people with disabilities use apps like the AXS map to know the rating and opinions of others about a specific site. In this age of information technology, word travels faster on the internet and the general public are hungrier than ever for information. You can either use this level of scrutiny to your advantage by embracing accessibility design or it can become a serious risk to you when your site is completely free of access to some individuals.
In a 2015 survey conducted by Cone Communications, 81 percent of consumers reported they are willing to make personal sacrifices to support socially responsible businesses. Entities trying to do good for their community build consumer trust. This means that even customers who do not need accommodations will be impressed by your work to be accessible. By adhering to the ADA standards, you are not only including more customers in your base but you are also using the ADA to your advantage. Some stores even like to include this information in notices by hanging a sign that say they are an ADA compliant facility.
The ADA does not only set up standards but it also creates resources to help meet those goals. The more you strive for ADA compliance, the greater the financial assistance you can receive, and the lower the possibility of an ADA violation. The Internal Revenue Service has provided a Disabled Access Credit (section 44) to help cover the cost of your efforts towards meeting accessibility standards. Your deduction for this work can be up to $15,000 per year, making these efforts considerably more affordable.
It is impossible to be 100% ADA compliant but everyone should still strive to meet the ADA’s requirements. Everyone’s plan to become more accessible is an ongoing process. The DOJ itself accepted that times change and guidelines must be updated when they published the 2010 ADA Standards of Accessible Design. These accessibility standards apply to businesses old and new even if they had already complied with previous guidelines since the passing of the ADA. Through the 2010 Standards, the DOJ hoped to make it easier to be ADA compliant by relaxing some of the requirements and providing facilities more leeway to follow them.
As an owner, you must have learned from experience that there is often more than one solution to a problem. Your business might not need a full makeover in order to become accessible. Instead, you can look for quick fixes that can make a significant change. Adjusting the layout, removing articles from high shelves, or putting a ramp on steps are already little ways of obeying this law at very little cost to you.
In the age of the web, it is also increasingly being accepted that ADA standards must also apply to web content. Websites that provide services needed by the general public must make sure that information in their web content adheres to accessibility standards. In fact, the DOJ has clarified their stance on this issue saying that “This interpretation is consistent with the ADA’s Title III requirements…” And while they have not yet adopted specific WCAG 2 . 0 website guidelines, this means that there is still a lot of time for websites to adapt to the challenge of web accessibility.
Prior to the passage of the ADA, millions of people with disabilities often faced barriers that made it impossible for them to function in life. Individuals with disabilities were often sequestered and cut off from everyday activities, unable to take part in society or get access to specific public facilities. This deprived us all of the people with wisdom to share and a free smile and kind word to give. By being open to people of all abilities, an ADA compliant business enables people with disabilities to enrich the lives of everyone, including your customers and employees.
Today, it’s almost free to search for information on the web. All you have to do is access one page to learn about ADA standards you have to follow. But simply reading text is not enough to get information on accessibility, because you will also require the opinion of experts to know the level of accessibility present at your site.
With the help of ADA Compliance Professionals, you can look carefully at your facilities and ensure they follow the guidelines explained clearly in the ADA Small Business Guide. A Certified Access Specialist will carefully examine your facilities and provide you with a form with information containing appropriate modifications that have to be made in your design.