The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. ADA-compliant means meeting specific legal requirements and best practices to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities. This guide will provide an overview of what it means to be ADA-compliant and how to achieve it.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 and is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment, education, transportation, and public accommodations. The ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, or learning. The law requires reasonable accommodations to ensure equal access and opportunity for individuals with disabilities. This is divided into four main sections, Title I, II, III, & IV, with Title I & III affecting businesses the most. Title I is for employment and accessibility for employees, and Title III covers accessibility for customers and physical barriers.
Many barriers to accessibility can prevent individuals with disabilities from fully participating in society. Some common barriers include physical obstacles, such as stairs or narrow doorways, and communication barriers, such as inaccessible websites or lack of sign language interpreters. To overcome these barriers, it's essential to prioritize accessibility in all design and communication aspects. This can include providing alternative formats for information, ensuring physical spaces are wheelchair accessible, and using inclusive language and design principles.
Testing and maintaining ADA compliance is an ongoing process that requires regular attention and updates. It's essential to regularly accept feedback from customers and employees regarding your business's accessibility. Many companies are often unaware of ADA violations until they are hit with a lawsuit that can cost them thousands. To ensure your business is compliant, the best way is to acquire the help of a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) and get your business an Access Inspected Certificate. As a business owner, you should still stay current on ADA regulations, especially regarding Title I regarding employment. However, having the Access Inspected Certificate will protect your business from getting hit with a title III accessibility lawsuit. By prioritizing accessibility and regularly testing and maintaining compliance, you can ensure that your organization is inclusive and accessible to all individuals.