As a business owner, you have a few goals in mind that guide the general operation of your business on a day-to-day level. For starters, of course, you want to make money. That’s the whole point of being in business in the first place, and you aren’t going to keep the doors open if you aren’t profitable. In addition to profitability, you want to serve your customers well, act in an ethical manner, be a positive influence in your community, and more.
One good way to serve all of those various goals is to make sure you are ADA-compliant. This is important because it can help you serve all possible customers, it can keep you out of legal trouble, and it is simply the right thing to do. If you have been confused in the past regarding what you need to do to conform to ADA rules, this post should point you in the right direction.
What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Let’s back up for a moment and take a closer look at what the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is, and why it is so important. Dating back to 1990, this federal act made it unlawful to discriminate against individuals who have disabilities. ADA rules apply not only to public property like sidewalks but also to places that are open to the general public. So, for most business owners, ADA-compliance is something that needs to be taken very seriously.
We should note that while this article is focused on the accessibility and safety of spaces open to the public, the Americans with Disabilities Act covers many more areas of life for disabled persons. For instance, employment opportunities are included in the act, as well as telecommunications provisions and other important measures.
Why Does This Matter to You?
From a big-picture perspective, ADA-compliance should matter to you as a business owner because making your business accessible to as many people as possible is the right thing to do. Beyond doing the right thing, it’s also important because of the potential legal and financial ramifications.
As you have built your business, you have probably worked hard to attract as many customers as possible. If you were to fail to handle your ADA obligations properly, you would not only be running the risk of ADA-noncompliance, but you’d also be missing out on a significant amount of potential business.
There are millions of disabled individuals in the United States, with those disabilities ranging from moderate to severe. Some estimates indicate that roughly 20% of American citizens have a disability of some kind, which brings the total beyond 20 million individuals. As a business owner, it’s easy to see how much of the market you could be missing if you fail to follow ADA rules.
One other important point to consider: potential lawsuits. You have almost certainly taken steps to protect your business from liability in other areas, so it would be a mistake to open yourself up on this front. If a disabled person were to be injured on your property in an accident that could have been avoided by complying with ADA regulations, the resulting lawsuit could be extremely damaging.
It is true that ADA-compliance can be a bit intimidating when you first get started. There is a lot to know, and it can be particularly confusing if you are trying to bring an old property or building up to date with current specifications. While we can’t outline all of the ADA rules here, we can touch on a few of the important points.
- A goal of reasonable accommodation. The precise requirements under the law for what your business must provide is going to vary from one situation to the next. This is why the concept of “reasonable accommodation” is important. If you have taken steps to accommodate disabled individuals in a way that is reasonable for the size and scope of your business, you’ll be on the right track.
- Parking and access. Two simple steps, and two steps that you may have already taken, are to have handicap parking spaces available and to provide wheelchair ramp access to the entrance to your building.
- Sufficient space to move. An individual using a wheelchair should be able to move comfortably through your space without any trouble. Significant lips on floor surfaces can be a problem for wheelchairs, as well as narrow aisles or heavy doors.
- Bathroom considerations. Another key compliance point is to ensure the bathrooms that you offer are suitable for disabled individuals. Including a bathroom stall large enough for a wheelchair—and the appropriate signs—will help make your building more accessible.
Of course, the list above is only a starting point for how your business can serve people with disabilities. To make sure you are doing the right things to both serve customers and stay away from legal issues, it may be worth working with a professional ADA-compliance consultant who can evaluate your property and offer specific advice.
Warning Surfaces Play an Important Role
Using warning surfaces to help keep disabled individuals safe is a simple and important step to take in this process. The best example of how these products can be used is seen on sidewalks throughout the country.
When you come to a road crossing, for instance, a detectable ADA warning surface may be seen where the curb slopes down to meet the roadway. This surface is not only slip-resistant, but it also includes a collection of bumps and other textures to make sure a disabled individual knows that they are approaching a road. To make the product even more effective, it is finished in a bright color that is sure to attract attention.
Get Started Right Away
This is the kind of thing that is easy to put off as a busy business owner. You have a lot on your plate, so you may feel like ADA-compliance is something you can put on the back burner. Even if you have the best of intentions, this is a bad idea. You never know when an issue may arise, so get started right away and take the necessary steps to comply with all relevant regulations for your situation.
In the end, it’s likely that you’ll find the process to be much quicker and easier—and more affordable—than you imagined. You’ll rest easy knowing you are following the rules and accommodating as many people as possible.
Working with the Right Supplier
One of the best things you can do while working toward ADA-compliance is to team up with a reputable supplier who can provide your company with the products necessary to complete this job. At ADA Solutions, our detectable warning surfaces are respected throughout the industry for their quality and consistency. When you order from us, you can be sure the product you receive will be ready to stand the test of time. To learn more, please feel free to contact us right away. We are excited to serve you!