by Barney Holtzman, Special to Inside Tucson Business
Ensuring your business physically meets standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Business owners may be familiar with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with a disability. They should also know about Title III of the ADA as more than 20 lawsuits have already been filed in Southern Arizona on this issue.
Title III requires places of public accommodation, including many private businesses, to be fully accessible to people with disabilities, applying the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, including the following:
1. Accessible route. This may include from the street/bus stop to the building, around the building and through the building, and from accessible parking to the building.
2. Parking. The number and type of accessible parking spaces is regulated, as is the location and slope surrounding the space.
3. Signage. Many signs must include braille. The location on, or on which side of, the door is also regulated. Parking signs must be a certain height to be seen over cars.
4. Doors. The clearance for doors is often too little, making the force required to open them too great.
5.Ramps. Many ramps are designed with the incorrect slope or do not have rescue areas.
6.Drinking fountains. The style and height affect accessibility.
7.Reach range. The height or depth of accessories, including soap dispensers, hand towels or soda machines, must be checked for reach range.
8.Stairs. Height, shape and location of handrails; treads and shape of stair; and stair striping are regulated.
9.Restroom stalls. The design and fixtures of accessible stalls are often incorrect.
10.Pools. Public pools are required to be accessible and a pool lift is a common solution.
Consider conducting a self-audit and/or hiring an ADA expert to provide a list of potential problem areas. A proactive investment now will save costs down the road as this issue is a growing area of litigation in Southern Arizona.