Learn about four key ADA requirements for making your business accessible to the disabled.

woman in a wheelchair at a desk

Over two decades have passed since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, and business owners still have work to do to be in compliance. The ADA guarantees that people with disabilities have the ability to participate in everyday activities by requiring businesses of all sizes to make their facilities accessible.

As a business owner it is your duty to keep up to date with all ADA requirements. The California Commission on Disability Access (CCDA) is one tool you can use. The list of violations provided by the CCDA can be used nationally as a guide for your business regarding the most up to date issues impacting small businesses all over the country. Having this knowledge will help your business avoid fines and avoid violations that expose your business to costly lawsuits.

What are the most common ADA violations?

The CCDA provides bi-annual reporting of the most common violations of ADA guidelines impacting business owners in the state of California. This list can be used nationally as a guide to the top violations of the ADA guidelines. The following are a few frequent violations noted by the CCDA in 2016.

  • Parking lot accessibility is a top offender on the list of violations appearing several times. Businesses should provide a minimum number of handicap accessible parking spaces and loading zones to prevent someone from being blocked in. The parking space designated for this purpose must provide compliant signage, including signs that can’t be covered up by the snow (i.e., more than just paint on the ground).
  • Accessible entry should be provided to your business, including routes to and from the parking lot to the entrance, entry doors and curbs from the accessible parking spots. Be sure to read the rules for appropriate signage regarding accessible entries as well. Examples of violations include stores with stairs only or doors with too high of a lip at the entrance.
  • Access within a public facility is also an important standard that continues to appear on the list of violations. Be sure to measure the aisles or paths within your business for accessibility (all store aisles must be 36 inches wide) as well as the height of surfaces in your business such as counters, bars and tables.
  • Bathroom accommodations include more than just sufficient space in stalls. Businesses should provide accessibility to a bathroom, accessible counters and light switches (including height and clearance).

How does the ADA apply to older buildings?

The ADA does not provide a “grandfather clause” for older buildings, which means that all private buildings providing public accommodation must be made accessible under the ADA guidelines. Businesses built before 1993 do have less strict requirements, however modifications are still required. Regardless of the age of your property, consulting with legal counsel is the best way to make sure you are fully compliant with the ADA guidelines.

The U.S. Department of Justice provides information about the ADA through a toll-free ADA Information Line 800-514-0301 or visit the ADA website.

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