Why Small Businesses Should Pay Attention to Accessibility

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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which passed more than 30 years ago, made it illegal to deny job opportunities to people based on their disabilities, mandated "reasonable accommodations" to make buildings accessible, and required most private businesses to offer equal service to disabled customers. About 61 million people in the United States (one in every four adults) live with a disability.1

While government enforcement of the ADA tends to be weak, a disabled person who is negatively impacted can sue a noncompliant business. ADA lawsuits are on the rise, with some disability activists reportedly becoming serial litigants.2 When an ADA claim is legitimate, the court can order that the violation be fixed and that the plaintiff's substantial legal fees be paid in full by the defendant. Some state laws allow for financial damages.

If you are notified of an alleged violation or served with a complaint, don't hesitate to consult a qualified legal professional. However, the threat of legal action is not the only reason to be aware of the accessibility requirements and guidelines that may apply to your business. Striving to better serve individuals who face immense challenges in their daily lives is simply good business practice.

Here are several facts about the Americans with Disabilities Act that may help you work toward compliance.

1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020
2-3) The New York Times, July 21, 2021