According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four U.S. adults has a documented disability. Consequently, alienating that population not only takes a massive toll on potential customers and sales but also your potential talent pool. Consequently, ADA training is not just about staying compliant. It is a critical part of staying competitive, as well.
If you do not have a disability that impacts you at work, while shopping, or when using other public facilities, you may not realize how difficult it is for those who do to navigate successfully in the day-to-day world. Obstacles that seem minor can be insurmountable for someone with a disability, resulting in frustration, aggravation and a loss of valuable customers and employees for businesses.
Yet, ADA compliance can seem nebulous for businesses. Reading through the actual ADA law passed in 1990 is an exercise in patience. Consequently, it is hard to process the day-to-day benefits. What does it mean for you and your business? What does your ADA training need to cover for compliance and to ensure inclusion? Where do you start?
ADA Training Basics
A good place to start with ADA training is with a general overview of the ADA. In summary, the ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination for those with disabilities and ensures they have the same rights and opportunities as others. There are five titles, or areas, where the law applies, and one additional area:
- Public Services: State and Local Government
- Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private Entities
- Miscellaneous Provisions
Businesses are most affected by employment, public accommodations and telecommunications. In 2010, the ADA revised Title III to include 12 categories of business, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, daycares and privately owned nonresidential facilities that adhere to ADA standards. There are new standards for accessible design, ticket sales and even service animals.
To comply, companies with more than 15 employees must provide reasonable accommodations to applicants, employees and consumers. This is where things can become foggy.
What is Reasonable Accommodation?
For a business, reasonable accommodation can include:
- Making existing facilities accessible and usable
- Job restructuring, modified schedules and reassignments
- Modification of equipment, policies, training or devices
While adding a ramp to a stairway entrance is reasonable, constructing a new building is not a reasonable accommodation.
In this age of technology and social media, make sure your websites and social media sites are ADA-compliant. While most companies think in terms of physical locations, making websites clear, usable and accessible is equally important and part of a recent revision by the Department of Justice.
Trying to sort through all the information necessary for your ADA training program may seem daunting but there are far more benefits than problems.
ADA Training Benefits
According to the CDC, there are 61 million adults with a disability in the U.S., and the number is only rising. As people age, they are more likely to become disabled, making it more difficult for them to be active consumers. Providing innovative means for them to engage with your company and its products or services means that you have a unique opportunity to grab this rapidly expanding market share.
Also, more than ever, consumers are seeking companies that show concern and social responsibility.
It is not just about customer inclusion, profits and sales. It is also looking at recruiting and hiring employees with disabilities. Diversity in the workplace is not just about gender and racial demographics. It also includes those with disabilities.
Studies have shown that workers with disabilities can be innovative, strong performers and create a positive experience for your customers, especially those with their disabilities. It also shows potential employees, customers and clients you welcome a diverse workforce that includes employees from many different groups and backgrounds. Providing reasonable accommodations does not have to be expensive or onerous in most cases. The results for your organization can be beneficial in more ways than you imagine.
What happens if you are not in compliance with ADA regulations? Depending on the violation, you can incur fines and penalties, or even be taken to federal court. Furthermore, the ADA puts the initiative on public accommodations venues to take measures to make their place of business ADA-compliant.