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Understanding the American's With Disabilities Act

"Sometimes, we work so hard to change a person when, what they really need from us is to help them remove the barriers blocking them from changing themselves." Author Unknown

Image - 2 way street sign pointing one way for people with disabilities and another for those without a disability

Accessibility is more than just a ramp or a lever door handle. Accessibility means the opportunity for any person, having a disability or not, to access any building or any person within that building independently.

Signed into law on July 26, 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA is the most comprehensive civil rights law designed and enacted to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities.

Of the 5 various Titles governing the laws, each designed to address various forms of discrimination, Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private entities operating places of "public accommodation" and affects access to businesses, transportation, service providers, and telecommunications.

Businesses of all types and sizes were now required to remove barriers in existing facilities and comply with the new federal guidelines. While this seems simple enough, implementation of the law would prove arduous at best. Comprehensive in its size and scope and equipped with the new Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), the law has been immensely misinterpreted and its application egregiously applied.

The sad reality is that many business and/or property owners have spent considerably more time looking into loopholes that would potentially exempt them from having to make improvements rather than taking the steps to evaluate and improve the accessibility of their facilities. Moreover, lacking any direct enforcement during the past 20 years - the prevailing attitude and persistent misinterpretation of the law has become increasingly infectious.

The 2010 Standards for Accessible Design are a revision of the 1991 Access Board Guidelines. These changes include additional sections that cover recreation facilities and play areas as well as changes to some of the
guidelines related to specific elements and/or businesses.

Follow this link to read more about the changes affecting
facilities and play areas or call us at 888-244-3292 to learn
more about how these new changes may or may not affect your business .

Intended to provide access to public buildings and facilities the ADA was thought to apply only to post-1990 construction or older buildings undergoing significant or structural remodeling. However the ADA requires that any public accommodation "shall remove architectural barriers in existing facilities, including communication barriers that are structural in nature, where such removal is readily achievable, i.e., easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."

Many municipal building inspectors will admit that they know little to nothing about the ADA and much to the dissuasion of many well-intentioned business owners who have learned the hard way; the ADA does not contain a "grandfather" provision. Most state codes do provide such a provision however the difference between the two codes is rarely addressed by local building officials.

To determine all of the requirements which potentially affect your business, it may be necessary to refer to the regulations, guidelines, and/or technical assistance materials developed by other federal Agencies with ADA Responsibilities such as, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (the Access Board).

For more information on the American's with Disabilities Act go to
Click here to learn more about the ADA

…and for more on the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, go to
Click here to learn more about the ADAAG

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Click on the banner below to learn more about the
Tax Incentives for Improving Accessibility
and see if your business qualifies

Link to Federal Tax Incentive for Improving Accessibility


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