As a business owner, you’ve undoubtedly heard of ADA requirements for public buildings. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides that certain buildings must have certain accessibility features, so people with disabilities can safely navigate them. ADA compliance in Pennsylvania is important not only to ensure that your patrons can use your building or access your services, but also so that you don’t rack up tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars in fines.
Read on for an overview of when your building must follow ADA compliance guidelines.
Which buildings must be ADA compliant?
If you own a business or building used for the following purposes, it is legally required that you follow ADA regulations:
- Government agencies: All local, county, state and federal government buildings must comply with the ADA.
- Businesses for the public benefit: If your business is run for the public benefit, you must follow the guidelines. “Public benefit” can include retail stores, transportation hubs, healthcare facilities, restaurants, hotels, parking garages, apartment buildings, schools, stadiums and more. If you’re inviting members of the public to come to your space, they need to be able to safely navigate it.
- Private businesses with 15 or more employees: If your business isn’t for the public benefit, but does have 15 or more employees, you’ll need to ensure the building is compliant.
- Non-profits and charities: If your non-profit or charitable organization operates for the public benefit, or has 15 or more employees, you must follow ADA building guidelines.
How do I verify that my building is ADA compliant?
The U.S. Department of Justice is responsible for overseeing ADA compliance, and will take action if your building is found to violate guidelines. (You also may be opening yourself up to lawsuits, so it really is best to comply from the outset.)
Verifying your ADA compliance is a matter of going through the guidelines, one by one, and ensuring that your building meets each regulation. You can do this by creating a floor plan for your building, including bathrooms and employees-only areas. Walk through your building and take measurements, then compare them to the regulations. As you find potential violations, write them down so they can be addressed as soon as possible.
Remember to walk around the outside of your building, too. Put yourself in the position of someone with a disability: Could a wheelchair or walker user get into the building? Could a blind person read the elevator buttons? Are bathrooms accessible to people with mobility issues?
Even your flooring makes a difference. For example, the ADA requires that building owners remove high-pile, dense carpeting because it makes it difficult for wheelchair users to push their chairs through. Similarly, if there are other obstacles on the floor or in doorways, you’ll need to remove them. Anything that impedes a person’s ability to use your facilities needs to be changed. In some cases, that’s simply a matter of rearranging your space, but in others, you may need additional construction.
To bring your Pennsylvania building into ADA compliance, call WSL Incorporated today.