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As a small business owner, you know the importance of making your business a safe and comfortable place for customers, guests, and employees. A significant part of that is making sure your business is accessible to guests of every capacity, including those with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against those with disabilities, and it provides regulations for accommodating such customers when they visit your business. The act extends to employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, government activities, and communications. Think of it as a way to ensure your business is as inclusive as possible.
Is your business cutting it?
The ADA isn’t just a suggestion—it’s a law, and like any law, it should be taken seriously. It’s in your business’s best interest to ensure that you’re taking every measure to reach that compliance standard by making “reasonable accommodations” for employees, guests, and customers with disabilities. There are two sides to the ADA that you as a business owner ought to be aware of: employment and patronage.
Title I: Employers at eligible businesses must provide an equal opportunity for employment to individuals with disabilities.
Title III: Businesses that provide goods and services to the public cannot discriminate against customers due to a disability, and must provide “public accommodations” for all clientele.
Keeping up to code
Your building and surrounding property:
Accommodations for those with disabilities are common features of most businesses nowadays, so much so that they can blend into the landscape a bit. Visit a business that’s up to date on its ADA requirements and you should see disabled parking spaces, enlarged bathroom and dressing stalls, and signs that are clearly visible from a distance.
ADA compliance extends to nearly every kind of establishment, including:
- Stores and shops
- Laundromats and dry cleaners
- Restaurants and bars
- Doctor, dentist, and law offices
- Shopping malls
- Hotels and motels
- Public transportation
And just to clarify: ADA standards apply to more than just parking spots and bathroom stalls. Here are some of the requirements that must be met for your business to be considered compliant:
As business continues to develop on more of a digital platform, the scope of ADA compliance no longer affects just the physical aspects of your business. In fact, a rising number of businesses have no physical location at all and are conducted solely online, catering to an ever-increasing number of online customers.
In 2010, the Department of Justice proposed an amendment to the ADA to better “establish requirements for making the goods, services, facilities, privileges, accommodations, or advantages offered by public accommodations via the Internet, specifically at sites on the World Wide Web (Web), accessible to individuals with disabilities.”*
*Source: Department of Justice
Consequently, in the last decade or so, the ADA has increased its focus on website compliance, ensuring that people with disabilities who visit websites are treated to an easy and satisfactory user experience.
Here are some of the ways you can keep your website ADA compliant:
When it comes to ADA compliance, it’s always best to be proactive and stay ahead by keeping as current as possible on ADA regulation updates and changes. If you’re not sure your business is up to specifications, check out these resources to make sure nothing falls through the cracks:
Providing accessibility to your business to those with disabilities results in higher customer satisfaction and instills loyalty and trust in your patrons. You take pride in what you do, so make your customers’ experiences the most convenient and pleasant they could possibly be.