For those suffering from life-inhibiting disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created with an aim to support disabled individuals with equal rights and access. As a business owner, you are required to abide by ADA laws in several ways.
What Is the ADA?
First passed in 1990 before being updated in 2008, the ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it prohibits any discrimination towards individuals with disabilities. There are 5 Titles to the series of regulations that aim to ensure equal opportunities and rights for all peoples with disabilities:
- Title I: Employment
- Title II: State and Local Government
- Title III: Public Accommodations
- Title IV: Telecommunications
- Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions
In the terms of the ADA, a disability is defined as either a mental or physical impairment that “substantially limits” or impacts the major life activities of a person.
There are many ways in which a business can accommodate those with disabilities, and some ways in which they can comply with the ADA are as follows:
- Barriers, both architectural and physical: It is required by ADA guidelines that a business must make their entrance and interior fully accessible to all. This could be through removing barriers, offering handicapped parking, providing alternatives to stairs such as ramps or elevators, or simply repositioning furniture in order to clear a path.
- Communication: It’s important that a business can communicate effectively with customers who suffer from hearing and/or speech disabilities. In order to achieve this, they may provide auxiliary aids and services for individuals, especially when it comes to website or phone call issues.
- Service Animals: Thus far, the ADA only recognizes dogs that have been trained to either work or perform tasks that are directly related to an individual’s disability as service animals. According to the ADA, service animals must be given the freedom to accompany their owners in “all areas of a facility where the public is normally allowed to go.”
- Mobility devices: Mobility devices, be it golf carts or Segways or any other such example, must be allowed unless otherwise deemed unsafe.
- Hiring: Employers can’t ask whether an applicant is disabled, ask about the severity or nature of a disability, require a medical exam before a job offer or discriminate against candidates with a disability. Still, employers are allowed to choose the best candidate for the job.