Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is an anti-discrimination regulation put in place under George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. This act is one of America’s core civil rights legislative decisions and provides protections to individuals living with physical or mental disabilities. The ADA prohibits discrimination and provides equal opportunity for disabled individuals.
To qualify for protection under the ADA, an individual must have at least one physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities. Under the ADA, these individuals have a right to accessibility design standards, technical assistance materials, civil rights laws, and the ability to file a complaint against a business to the federal government.
The ADA is divided into 5 titles or sections that relate to different areas of public life:
- Employment: Employers with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations for disabled or differently abled individuals. This is regulated by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Public Services: Public entities must keep disabled individuals in consideration when designing any new program service or activity including public transport. This is regulated by the US Department of Justice
- Public Accommodations and Services by Private Entities: This prohibits discrimination of disabled individuals at private businesses such as hotels, restaurants, retail stores, doctor’s offices, health clubs, stadiums, theatres and more. This sets the minimum architectural standard for accessible design and is regulated by the US Department of Justice
- Telecommunications: Requires phone and internet companies to provide accessibility for individuals with hearing and speech disabilities. The Federal Communication Commission regulates this, and the most common use case is closed captions for video content.
- Miscellaneous: Anything that could discriminate against differently abled individuals but is not covered by the categories above.
ADA Standards for Accessible Design
One of the most impactful pieces of the ADA of 1990 is the regulation on Accessible Design. This standard ensures that buildings accommodate guests who are blind, wheel-chair bound or deaf so that they can safely navigate through buildings.
Examples of ADA standards of Accessible Design are:
- Handicap parking spaces
- Standard sized wheelchair ramps
- Braille reading options on room signs
- Flashing lights on fire alarms
- Sink, counter and Toilet height minimums and maximums
Failure to comply with the ADA can lead to serious fines and civil penalties that will negatively affect your bottom line. It is essential that managers are consistently inspecting their facility for ADA compliance to ensure they do not receive a fine.