Since 1992 businesses have been required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. This law is designed to make all businesses accessible to people with disabilities by removing architectural barriers so that disabled persons have the equal ability to gain access to goods or services as non-disabled persons. Here are a few areas where improvement might be needed.
Accessible parking and building access. In parking lots, generally there must be one parking space at least 12 feet wide for every 25 regular parking spaces. This is to allow individuals who use wheelchairs to be able to exit and enter their vehicles. These people must be able to traverse the parking lot and walkways and enter the buildings. Generally this means ramps in addition to stairs if the building and parking area are of different heights. Entrances to businesses must have at least one wheelchair accessible entry point that must remain open as long as other entry points are open.
Access to goods and services. Customers should not have to ask for assistance to reach merchandise that is accessible to non-disabled persons. Clearly, if there are high shelves that require a ladder or assistance from an employee to reach by any customer, special accommodations aren’t required for disable persons, but if the average, non-disabled person can reach merchandise, there must be a mechanism to allow persons in wheelchairs or other mobility assistance devices to reach the same merchandise. Aisles must be wide enough to allow devices to maneuver. Restaurant and food service establishments must provide access to tables, food service counters, condiment bars and beverage dispensers. At least 5% of tables and chairs must be accessible to people in wheelchairs.
Restrooms. Public restrooms must have at least one stall per restroom (one stall in the men’s and one in the women’s, or one in a unisex restroom) that is large enough to allow a wheelchair to make a full circle (60″ in diameter). Toilets must be an appropriate height and there must be grab bars on either side. The stall door must be operable with a closed fist for both opening and closing the door. The restroom itself must have sinks, soap and towel dispensers, mirrors, and coat hooks at required heights.
If you lease your retail or office space, you should make sure that the building is ADA-compliant. While you as a tenant might not have any liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act for not having an ADA-compliant workplace, why support lawbreakers?