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Keeping Your Business Accessible: Know the Laws and Rules Before it's too Late

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The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a set of federal laws that requires businesses and other facilities to provide access and accommodation to disabled customers. These laws pertain to most businesses open to the public, regardless of their size or average number of patrons. Not being ADA compliant can lead to fines ranging from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Knowing this, are you sure your business would pass the test?

First, it is important to understand what the ADA is all about. This set of laws aims to prohibit the discrimination of any disabled person whether it be for housing, education, employment, or public accommodations. This means that whether someone is buying something from a store, exercising at the gym, or getting their oil changed, a business must make sure that people with disabilities are able to access the service. It is also important to note that those businesses and facilities existing before the ADA laws were passed are not exempt from compliance.

Accessible Parking

ADA standards require a certain amount of handicap accessible parking spaces per total parking spaces available. It also states that the accessible route must be in the same area as the general circulation path. Meaning, the ramps and other paths for walking or pedestrian traffic must be clearly accessible. To determine the correct number of parking spaces, a chart is readily available from the ADA website.

Total Number of Parking Spaces Provided in Parking Facility Minimum Number of Required Accessible Parking Spaces

1-25

1

26-50

2

51-75

3

76-100

4

101-150

5

151-200

6

201-300

7

301-400

8

401-500

9

501-1000

2% of total

1001 and over

20, plus 1 for each 100, or fraction thereof, over 1000

 

Accessible Design

Accessible design ranges from regulating aisle width to mandates on kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Clear floor space, for instance, must be a minimum of 30 inches wide and 48 inches deep. Other clearance levels for leg and foot space are also mandated. Knee clearance must extend at least 25 inches from the floor and foot clearance must be at least 9 inches tall and 6 inches deep. This allows individuals in a mobility device to easily approach a sink or counter.

Communication Elements

You will notice that there is modified signage, typically Braille, almost everywhere you go. From bathroom signs, fire exits, ATMs, and telephones, accessibility compliant signage is everywhere. The ADA also states that the working and Braille lettering for the sign must not be in the picture field. This helps to eliminate confusion and promote communication.

Whether it’s the parking outside or the signs you have indoors, businesses are being held accountable for their accessibility. The ADA laws are detailed rules for everything you need to know about making sure people of all abilities are able to access your business. Be sure to read through the ADA book and then contact EZ-ACCESS if you need any help bringing your building up to code.

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