Going Above and Beyond: ADA Standards Businesses Should Follow
To be as successful as you can in your business, you want to make sure you serve all customers you can. The Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law in 1990, established a set of standards for society, businesses, and public areas that cater to the needs of people with disabilities. While the law sets minimum requirements, companies can (and should) go above and beyond to ensure that people with disabilities feel welcome.
ADA Compliance Basics
The purpose of the ADA is to protect people with disabilities from discrimination in employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and government activities. Title III specifically lays out ADA requirements for public accommodations in providing goods or services to the public. The goal of all ADA regulations is to require businesses to make reasonable accommodations to help people with disabilities, whether that means altering furniture layout for easier navigation or incorporating dome-tiled ramps.
It is essential to understand the basics of ADA regulations because breaching these requirements can be easy to do if you aren’t careful. For example, lacking public accommodations such as a ramp at the entrance of your business or dome-tiled warning tiles can be, by law, considered a form of discrimination against people with disabilities. This is true even if your business is privately owned.
ADA Standards for Business Buildings and Public Areas
Complying with the law and being sensitive to people with disabilities means being aware of potential hazards such as flooring, doorways, parking lots, and other overlooked problem areas.
When possible, a parking lot should always have an accessible parking space for a person with a disability. The spot should be closest to the accessible entrance into the desired destination, including ample space to the right or left of the available parking space to allow a person using a mobility device to get in and out of the car safely. These spaces are marked with an internationally recognized symbol of accessibility.
One step at the entrance of a business can prohibit a person with a disability from benefiting from the business’s goods or services. Companies must have at least one entrance that is accessible to all by either providing a ramp, eliminating the steps, or installing a lift. People should be able to get to this accessible entrance by the public sidewalk, public transportation, or parking lot.
Doorways need to be accessible to people who use mobility devices. This means doorways should be at least 36-inches wide. While bigger businesses have automatic doors, smaller businesses should pay attention to the weight of the door and its door handles. Some door handles complicate the door opening process for someone who must use a wheelchair or cane. Be aware of the door threshold and make sure that it’s not too high to navigate over.
Flooring and Shelving Accessibility
While flooring isn’t something stipulated under ADA regulations, uneven floors or heavy carpet can cause tripping and other problems. Safe types of flooring for your business include hardwood, ceramic tile, vinyl, and short, compact carpet types.
Care should also be taken when stocking and displaying merchandise in a retail store. When surfaces or counters are too high, people with disabilities will not be able to access the materials themselves.
Bathroom Accessibility and ADA Compliance
Accessible bathrooms are a must. Stalls should be wide enough to navigate with a wheelchair, grab bars should be installed at the correct height and location, and all hardware at an accessible height.
Websites should take steps to consider people with disabilities by providing captioned videos and downloadable text. This allows people to digest the information as they are able in their own time.
Businesses do better when they are accessible to everyone. An ADA compliant business not only follows the law but creates a welcoming environment for people with disabilities. As you consider how you need to improve the accessibility of your business, reach out to your local municipality for guidance as it relates to detectable warning titles.