Accessibility Issues & Updates

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits the exclusion of people with disabilities from enjoying everyday activities such as shopping, going to the movies, exercising, going to a restaurant, etc. The ADA is a Federal law that establishes requirements for all businesses to meet these goals.

The ADA went into effect on January 26, 1992, and applies to both for-profit and non-profit organizations and businesses. If you own, operate, lease, or lease to a business that serves the public, then, you are covered by the ADA and have obligations for existing facilities as well as for compliance when a facility is altered or a new facility is constructed. Existing facilities are not exempted, under Federal law, from "grandfather provisions" that are used by the building codes.

While it is not possible for many businesses, especially small businesses, to make their facilities fully accessible, there is much that can be done without much difficulty or expense to improve accessibility. Therefore, the ADA requires that accessibility be improved without taking on excessive expenses that could harm the business.

Additional Information

To get answers to questions about ADA or learn more about the law call the Department of Justice ADA information line, toll-free, at 800-514-0301 (Voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or go online to the Americans with Disabilities Act website.

Information for Business-Owners

If you own or operate a business that serves the public you must remove physical "barriers" that are "readily achievable" which means easily accomplished without much difficulty or expense. The "readily achievable" requirement is based on the size and resources of the business. So larger businesses, with more resources, are expected to take a more active role in removing barriers than small businesses. The ADA also recognizes that economic conditions vary. When a business has resources to remove barriers, it is expected to do so, but when profits are down, barrier removal may be reduced or delayed.

Barrier removal is an ongoing obligation, and you are expected to remove barriers in the future as resources become available. To help in evaluating what barriers need to be removed, a business should look to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which is available from the U.S. Department of Justice, Americans with Disabilities Act website.