ADA Compliance is Important for Your Clients’ Business
ADA, US Chamber, NFIB
February 13, 2020
- Last edition
February 12, 2020
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1992, and since updated, prohibits businesses that serve the general public from discriminating intentionally or unintentionally against people with mental or physical disabilities. For business owners, it’s that unintentional part that can be difficult to nail down, but it must be done as part of regular business operations in the United States.
While it can be a frustrating process at first, clients need to think of it as a way to add and retain a whole new clientele that otherwise would have been excluded. There is a plethora of detailed literature that can guide any business to bring their physical and digital presence into ADA compliance, but this information will give a general overview of what an agent ought to communicate.
Compliance for the Business
To begin, a business must look to its employees. Much of this boils down to communication; a business must ensure that policies related to disabilities are first of all, in place, and secondly, made known to the employees. This includes written job expectations, policies related to disability absence and disability insurance.
These are required in order to prevent arbitrary rules being enforced on the staff. Reasonable accommodations should be made to help disabled employees do their jobs, usually on a case by case basis. Help clients understand that in most cases a verbal agreement won’t serve them very well in a court of law.
Compliance for the Building
The physical structure of a company that serves the general public should also be compliant with the ADA. Any contractor that built the building or performed updates should be aware of this, but it is always the responsibility for the client to double check.
Wheelchair ramps, lips on the doors that are not too high, handicap parking and bathrooms, and railings to help move around an area are the most obvious changes that must be made. No business is expected to incur undue expense, but reasonable accommodations ought to be made to those who are mentally or physically handicapped.
Help clients them understand that it’s not just the law, but good business practice as well. People who are not themselves disabled but have a blind family member, for instance, appreciate signs that welcome service animals.
Compliance for the Website
Now with the age of the Internet in full swing, ADA regulations are beginning to apply more and more to the web presence of every business. This is obviously not to help those with mobility difficulties, this is more for visual or auditory occurrences like color blindness or deafness.
This does not refer to flavor text or sounds that set the mood, but to functionality. A website that runs on sound alone without text is prohibitive to someone who cannot hear, and colored buttons can prove difficult to manage for some.
Show clients that the changes need not violate their vision or design. This can be as simple as adding text where there are images, or an option to read (or hear) something that is not readily available on the main site. Remind them that as more and more business is done online, this will become just as important and common as handicap parking, so best not to be left behind.