Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities
Steps for Improving Access and Business
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive Federal civil rights law that requires equal opportunity and access for individuals with disabilities to the goods and services offered by the more than 6 million businesses in the United States . Knowledge and understanding of the requirements of the ADA are essential to compliance.
While the ADA was signed into law over 17 years ago, businesses continue to struggle with understanding their obligations. Many businesses covered by Title III of the ADA do not realize that they are required to do what is readily achievable in order to remove existing architectural and communication barriers. Readily achievable barrier removal is defined as barriers which can be removed without much difficulty or expense. There is a misperception that if no alterations have been undertaken then there is no requirement to address accessibility. The ADA does not contain a grandfather clause. A lack of knowledge and understanding of the ADA 's requirements does not exempt a business from compliance.
Readily achievable barrier removal may involve designing an accessible route from the parking lot to the business, mounting dispensers in accessible locations and altering a portion of a service counter to make it accessible. The obligation to provide access to a facility and remove barriers is on-going and can be intimidating to small businesses and organizations. Providing access and removing barriers is not only the law, it also makes good business sense.
Other examples of barrier removal include but are not limited to:
- Creating designated accessible parking spaces
- Installing ramps
- Making curb cuts in sidewalks and entrances
- Widening doors
- Installing offset hinges to widen doorways
- Eliminating a turnstile or providing an alternative accessible path
- Installing accessible door hardware
- Repositioning shelves
- Rearranging tables, chairs, vending machines, display racks, and other furniture
- Installing grab bars in toilet stalls
- Rearranging toilet partitions to increase maneuvering space
- Insulating lavatory pipes under sinks to prevent burns
- Installing a raised toilet seat
- Installing a full-length bathroom mirror
- Repositioning the paper towel dispenser in a bathroom
- Installing an accessible paper cup dispenser at an existing inaccessible water fountain
- Repositioning telephones
- Adding raised markings on elevator control buttons
- Removing high pile, low density carpeting or
- Installing flashing alarm lights
Steps for Improving Access and Business
The Title III regulations prioritize Barrier Removal for public accommodations as follows:
- A public accommodation should take measures to provide access to a place of public accommodation from public sidewalks, parking, or public transportation. These measures include, for example, installing an entrance ramp, widening entrances, and providing accessible parking spaces.
- A public accommodation should take measures to provide access to those areas of a place of public accommodation where goods and services are made available to the public. These measures include, for example, adjusting the layout of display racks, rearranging tables, widening doors, and installing ramps.
- A public accommodation should take measures to provide access to restroom facilities. These measures include, for example, removal of obstructing furniture or vending machines, widening of doors, installation of ramps, providing accessible signage, widening of toilet stalls, and installation of grab bars.
- A public accommodation should take any other measures necessary to provide access to the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation. These measures would include: Providing Brailed and raised character signage and providing visual alarms.
The requirement to do what is readily achievable in removing existing barriers is an on-going obligation for places of public accommodation. If something is not readily achievable at the moment then the place of public accommodation should examine how it will address removing that barrier in the future.
If barrier removal is not readily achievable because it would result in a fundamental alteration in the goods or services offered by a public accommodation or in an undue burden, the public accommodation shall make its goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations available through alternative methods, if those methods are readily achievable. When determining if something is an undue financial burden a place of public accommodation should consider any tax deductions that are available under IRS Tax Code 190. Businesses can take a $15,000 deduction for the removal of barriers. A tax credit is available for small businesses, less then $1,000,000 in gross revenue or 30 or fewer employees, of up to $10,000 for expenses in removing barriers.
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