The Americans With Disabilities Act – Who Me?
As a sign company that makes Braille signs for public buildings, we are asked about ADA rules and regulations on a regular basis – some pertaining to signage, some not. Working with many different construction companies on new commercial buildings (versus existing) we are typically given the specifications for the various signage needs on each project. And we’ve seen those specifications change throughout the project, and from project to project. Whether the construction manager has different interpretations to the codes or the city inspector tells him/her what to do, we always try to do what’s right, and best for the situation.
So… ADA requirements are just for ‘big’ companies though – right? Wrong. Businesses that provide goods or services to the public are called “public accommodations.” The ADA has established requirements for 12 categories of public accommodations, which includes stores, restaurants, bars, theaters, hotels, recreational facilities, private museums and schools, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, shopping malls, and other businesses. Nearly all types of businesses that serve the public are included in the 12 categories, regardless of the size of the business or the age of their buildings.
Businesses covered by the ADA are required to modify their policies and procedures when necessary to serve customers with disabilities and take steps to communicate effectively with customers with disabilities. The ADA also requires businesses to remove architectural barriers in existing buildings and to make sure that newly built or altered facilities are constructed to be accessible to all people. “Grandfather provisions” often found in local building codes do not exempt businesses from their obligations under the ADA.
Nearly 1 in 5 people have a disability in the U.S., according to Census Bureau Reports. So, for a commercial business and especially a service or retail oriented company, you’re going to want to comply with ADA rules and regulations to ensure safety and accessibility for 20% of your prospective customers!
Commercial facilities such as office buildings, factories, warehouses, or other facilities that do not provide goods or services directly to the public are only subject to the ADA’s requirements for new construction and alterations. Each state has their own rules and regulations. Here’s a link from the MN Dept. of Labor and Industry to help guide you. http://www.dli.mn.gov/CCLD/codes15.asp. If you can’t find what you need, give us a call and we’ll help figure it out!