There are countless things to consider and know when it comes to owning a business. You need to generate revenue, you need to have an establishment or a service that people keep coming back to, and you need to reach a wide variety of people. One of the things that is sometimes overlooked, but absolutely shouldn’t be, is the accessibility of your business. Especially if you’re the owner of a brick-and-mortar store, it’s essential to consider people of all abilities and how they will fare at your business.
Able Care Group offers the mobility solutions you need to stay ADA compliant and to create a better business venture for both your customers and yourself. But what exactly does ADA compliance mean? What’s the purpose of ensuring your business is accessible? Able Care can answer all these questions and then some in today’s blog. Our commercial wheelchair ramps, stairlifts, platform lifts, and so many other mobility solutions can make all the difference for your business. Dive into the inner workings of what makes something ADA compliant, and contact Able Care to get started.
What is the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that went into effect in 1992. It was formed to ensure the needs and rights of people with disabilities were being met, and continue to be addressed. More than anything, the ADA works to provide equity to people of all abilities, meaning that people who use wheelchairs or canes or nothing at all have the same opportunities, as well as the same accessibility to those opportunities.
Why is the ADA important?
Before the ADA was passed, stores, businesses, schools, and other places of employment were not required to make their establishments accessible to all. This created a huge gap in ability, and more or less severed connections that people with disabilities had with the rest of the world. Going to the nearest grocery store in a wheelchair might have once been impossible, all because of a curb and lack of ramp. Trying to get holiday gifts when there’s no handicap spot might have meant needing to navigate an icy parking lot with a walker or crutches. Being visually impaired might have meant not having a way to find the nearest bathroom.
Each of these things that many abled people don’t give a second thought to were oftentimes unattainable. This led to an ethical question: should people with different abilities be denied the same liberties as others? Thankfully, the government disagreed, and passed the ADA to protect and maintain the civil rights for people of all abilities.
What does this mean for businesses?
As the government page for the ADA states, “To meet the goals of the ADA, the law established requirements for private businesses of all sizes.” The document goes on to explain, “If you own, operate, lease, or lease to a business that serves the public, then, you are covered by the ADA and have obligations for existing facilities as well as for compliance when a facility is altered or a new facility is constructed.” In other words, you as a business owner are legally responsible to make your business accessible to all.
What if my business was built before 1992?
This leads to one of the most common questions about being ADA compliant. If your business was built before 1992, there’s a good chance that it was not constructed with accessibility for all in mind. There are often architectural barriers to establishments that were built before 1992, which are not something that affect everyone, but definitely pose a problem for people with disabilities — and pose a problem for your ADA compliance.
One thing that’s excellent about the ADA is that it recognizes this conundrum. As they explain further, “If you own or operate a business that serves the public you must remove physical “barriers” that are “readily achievable,” which means “easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense.” For small business, there are small things you can do to create a more ADA-compliant establishment, without having to break the bank or build a new storefront. For larger businesses and corporations, you are considered responsible for taking a more active role in being ADA compliant, as you have the means and funds to do so.
As a side note, if your profits are down, you are not required to enact the methods to create an ADA compliant establishment immediately — you can delay, but you are still expected to take care of creating a mobility solution.
Why should my business be ADA compliant?
From a legal standpoint, this is a requirement for you to ensure everyone can access your business. That alone is reason enough for many people to make sure their business is ADA compliant. But more importantly, the humanist standpoint should reign supreme. The ADA was created out of necessity to protect the civil rights and liberties of people with disabilities. To deny someone entrance to your establishment based on their abilities is no different than denying someone entrance because of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Creating accessible opportunities for all is the right thing to do, and shows that you’re considering the needs of everyone.
In addition to these two solid reasons for practicing ADA compliance, another reason exists in terms of financial benefits. For one thing, if more people can get to your business, that means more business for you! More customers means more revenue; not to mention, people will appreciate and express loyalty for knowing they are welcome and wanted at your place of business. Finally, there is also a tax credit and deduction that small businesses can utilize, because the government recognizes and rewards you for actions in staying ADA compliant. The ADA explains further:
“To assist businesses with complying with the ADA, Section 44 of the IRS Code allows a tax credit for small businesses and Section 190 of the IRS Code allows a tax deduction for all businesses. The tax credit is available to businesses that have total revenues of $1,000,000 or less in the previous tax year or 30 or fewer full-time employees.”
In short, any actions you take to become more ADA compliant could result in a tax credit or deduction.
How can I make my business ADA compliant?
Great question! We will continue answering this in our next blog, because there are so many things you can do to ensure ADA compliance. But for now, you have a basic understanding of the importance of the ADA, who it serves, and why it’s to your advantage to implement accessible and equitable solutions to your business.