Small Business and the ADA

ADA Requirements

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires small businesses to provide accessible goods and services to people with disabilities. Many small businesses find that complying with the ADA not only meets their legal obligations, but they also expand their customer base to over 50 million people with disabilities who represent 175 billion in spending power. Following are things small businesses should do to meet the needs of consumers with disabilities.

Make Your Building Accessible

Accessible parking, a ramp, if needed to get into the building, accessible counters, and restrooms are all required by the ADA. However, businesses do not have to become fully accessible at once. The ADA requires small businesses to do what is "readily achievable". That is, what can be done easily without undo expense. Business owners should place a priority on changes that get customers "in the door" such as accessible parking and wider doorways.

Provide Effective Communication

Sometimes in order to effectively communicate with customers with disabilities, your business will need to provide additional services. A customer who is blind may need a Braille menu or have the menu read to her. Passing notes back and forth or adaptive equipment like a face-to-face communicator can be used to assist people who are deaf. Note: businesses may not charge additional fees for providing these services!

Modify Your Policies and Procedures

Your policies may inadvertently keep people with disabilities from using your services. For example, a business may require a driver's license to rent items. A common sense modification for an individual who is blind would be to accept another form of ID.