What is the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed into law in 1990 during the elder Bush’s administration. This law was enacted to provide equal opportunity to everyone especially for persons with disabilities. Since then, existing facilities and plans for new buildings have been obligated to conform to the new safety and accessibility guidelines determined by the ADA.
A decade ago, the Department of Justice also published the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design that determines the minimum requirements permitted under this Act. As the ADA is a civil rights law and not a building code, the revised regulations were written so that businesses can find it easier to comply with its demands. Despite this, the annual tally for filed lawsuits continues to show that violations are still on the rise.
Needless to say, compliance to the ADA is compulsory as litigation is an unnecessary cost for any business. In the State of California where the most complaints for Title III have been recorded, a minimum of $4,000 in statutory damages can be paid by a violator to the complainant for each case. This is above the costs of attorney’s fees and other inconveniences that can put a strain on your enterprise.
How can I check if my building is ADA compliant?
Since this law covers existing facilities, it is necessary also for older structures to get inspected and updated in accordance to the standards. Some establishments even opt to get the opinion of a Certified Access Specialist (CASp). A CASp is a trained professional who specializes in building-related ADA regulations. In the unfortunate event that a violation is alleged for your site, a previous CASp ADA inspection can avail you the right to a court stay. You might not even have to hire your own lawyer with the confidence afforded by a previous CASp certification. And even if you don’t get a CASp report beforehand, you will need a CASp inspection anyway should any claim be raised against you.
What if I can’t afford to hire a CASp?
But say you just don’t have it in your budget right now to get the opinion of a specialist. A full ADA checklist is available online that can guide you in determining if your site is compliant. If yours is not an existing facility, you can use this test to find out if your design should be amended before you even begin construction. However, such a task is very hard to do alone especially if you opt to take it on without the help of a professional. The checklist itself recommends the activity to be done by at least two persons. Lots of measurements will need to be taken so accuracy in this endeavor must also be observed.
As in when thinking about our health, prevention is always better than cure. You can consider your business’ ADA compliance as a necessary investment to make when you decide to set up shop. Instead of waiting for a complaint to be filed down the line, it will be more beneficial if we are proactive in doing self checks with the assistance of trained experts.