The ADA and Accessibility: A Guide for Businesses and Public Buildings

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stipulates that businesses and organizations integrate reasonable access for disabled individuals into their properties. This means elements like a home lift
being installed for wheelchair users and other persons with poor mobility. Many homeowners and landlords have already converted their properties to have disabled access such as this as it allows them or their affected family members full access with fewer concerns. But the real estate market isn’t the only sector that needs to be ADA compliant.

The ADA is relevant to the majority of companies and facilities that are open to civilians, whether they are paying customers or members of the public. It’s vital that all companies and organizations consider the needs of everyone who may want to make use of their space, and the below guide gives you the details you need to know.

What does the ADA expect?

The ADA was put into place to prohibit discrimination of disabled people across different settings, such as schools, places of business, housing and more. We would all agree that disabled individuals should be free to eat in a restaurant, watch a movie or shop without being restricted by a lack of accessibility.

However, this is (sadly) often overlooked.

The ADA’s requirements were brought into effect on January 26 1992, but it applies to properties from before and after that time differently. Rules for facilities constructed before 1993 are more lenient than for those built after, though changes are still expected to ensure they comply with the ADA.

The ADA and private companies

Private companies supplying services or products to members of the public are recognized as ‘public accommodations’ in Title III of the ADA.

All of these businesses are required to adhere to specific regulations combating inequality or segregation of disabled people. Any structure classed as ‘public accommodations’ should remove all barriers that could deny accessibility, but only where this can be achieved without considerable expense or inconvenience.

If such barriers cannot be removed, the ADA requires that said business finds alternative means to accommodate disabled individuals. If a property is a workplace and not open to members of the public (such as an office or factory), there is no need to take barriers away. These ‘commercial facilities’ are exempt.

In all, there are twelve categories of ‘public accommodations’, such as theaters, hotels, gums, and museums. The ADA’s regulations apply to almost anything which is open to the public.

Fortunately, innovators are giving building-owners and visually impaired people more options to improve accessibility, using that most essential of everyday tools: the smartphone. App RightHear provides users with audio information to help them navigate indoor and outdoor spaces, pulling navigational details from locations and directing the user to their destination. Property-owners can improve their customer/visitor experience by following the ADA’s guidelines and embracing tech like RightHear.

New structures and adjustments to aid accessibility

According to the ADA, all newly-built facilities (in use on or after January 26 1993) must either meet or exceed the Act’s Standards for Accessible Design.

In order to comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, such facilities may need to make alterations to their property. This includes any renovations that may have been made after the initial construction, if these affect accessibility. Property renewals can often be tricky, and officials have to make sure they’re not creating avoidable problems while renewing a public building or development. It helps in such situations to employ the services of a property consultant like Michael Teys and others. Professionals such as them specialize in looking for building defects that may have gone unnoticed, coming up with an efficient plan for renewal and redevelopment, and making sure the plan in place provides the desired outcome. In this case, that would be making the public buildings accessible.

Businesses and organizations might need to take such dramatic steps as moving walls, changing flooring, removing fixtures and installing Automatic Sliding Doors. These are essential to avoid discrimination.

While some expense may be involved, companies should commit themselves to improve their facilities for all who want to use them. The ADA is a necessary act that protects the needs of those with disabilities.

Any disabled people who feel they may have been mistreated by a business or organization which refuses to comply with the ADA could have a right to take legal action. As a result, businesses could face legal ramifications if they willingly disregard the ADA’s regulations, and may ultimately harm their reputation.

The ADA aims to enable those with disabilities to enjoy the same conveniences able-bodied people do, and no company or organization should take exception with their requirements.

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