If you are a small business with 15 or more employees, or you provide goods or services to the public, then you are required to follow the guidelines set out in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ADA prohibits discrimination against employees, customers, and anyone else with a disability who visits your site. The Act covers the ways businesses are to deal with employment, public accommodation, communication, and access for persons with disabilities.
A person is considered to have a disability if they have, have had, or are regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities. These activities include, but are not limited to, eating, seeing, communicating, hearing, walking, and reading.
Title I and Title III
For small businesses, the most pertinent portions of the ADA are Title I and Title III. Title I prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified persons with disabilities in applying for jobs, hiring, firing, and job training.
Title III applies to small businesses that provide services to the public and have commercial facilities. The section covers businesses in 12 categories, including restaurants, shops, theaters, schools, daycare facilities, doctors’ offices, and more.
Small Business Compliance
The US Department of Justice has published a primer on small businesses and the ADA that covers in detail how to make your business ADA compliant, particularly in regards to Title I and Title III.
To be ADA compliant, here are some things a small business should consider:
- Have policies and procedures in place to serve and communicate with customers with disabilities
- Remove architectural barriers in existing buildings and ensure new facilities are accessible to individuals with disabilities
- Provide accessible parking, entrances, and routes to goods and services
- Allow service animals and mobility devices, such as wheelchairs and walkers
- Reasonably accommodate employees’ request for accommodation, as long as the request does not create undue hardship for the business or create a direct threat to workplace safety
Handbook and Training
While not required, it is a good idea for employers to include ADA policies and procedures in the employee handbook. The handbook should both describe the policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment against employees with disabilities and also address accommodations in the workplace for job applicants and employees.
It’s also good practice to provide staff training on ADA requirements, including preventing discrimination and harassment as well as providing accessibility and accommodations. Training might cover the company’s ADA policies and procedures as laid out in the employee handbook, ways to modify practices to accommodate customers with disabilities, and advice on how to communicate with persons with a disability.
When most individuals and business owners think of ADA requirements, they think of a business’s physical site or policies. It may surprise many to find that the Title III guidelines also apply to a business’s website.
Websites are considered places of public accommodation and as such should provide accessibility features for persons with disabilities, according to the ADA. One example of making a website more accessible for a blind person or someone with vision impairment would be for videos to include audio descriptions of images. Other accommodations might include skip-navigation links so that those using screen readers can move directly to pertinent pages or online forms with descriptive HTML tags to pages designed specifically for persons with disabilities.
Your InPrime Legal Team
Let our team help you with ADA guidelines and compliance. To learn more about all the ways our experienced attorneys can help, contact InPrime Legal online today or call us at 678-578-4321.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered a substitute for competent legal advice from one of our licensed attorneys.