It’s true - trying to be compliant with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act can mean extra work and expense for your business. You may question whether or not it is really worth it to try to work with these standards, but there are a number of reasons why compliance with the ADA is important. Here are 10 reasons your business should be ADA compliant.
1) It’s the Law
The ADA is meant to protect all people with disabilities from discrimination, or anything that would create a barrier making it impossible for someone to receive services. All businesses are monitored by the Department of Justice, which sets standards for ADA compliance. If someone with a disability feels your business did not work to make your services accessible to them, they can file a complaint, and the decision may have to go to court. If the DOJ finds you in violation of the ADA standards, you can be penalized up to $150,000.
2) It Helps You Get and Keep Customers
The U.S. Census Bureau suggests that almost 1 in 5 Americans have some sort of disability. Furthermore, according to the disability-rights group APSE (The Association of People Supporting Employment First), customers with disabilities and their families and friends constitute a more than $3 trillion market segment. Clearly, it would be foolish to exclude such a large and significant population from your potential customer base.
3) Aging Population
Not only is the disability community large, but it is also growing. Advances in medical technology mean that people are living longer and more likely to recover and thrive from conditions that previously would have done much more harm. This means that more and more people are going to need these accommodations in the future. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by 2020, 157 million Americans will be living with a chronic illness.
4) Word of Mouth Advertising
Often, the disability community is very tight-knit, because people with related physical challenges stick together, giving assistance about how to navigate the world in their own way. If one person with a disability has a positive experience, he or she is very likely to encourage other people to come to that business to meet their needs. Many people with disabilities take advantage of apps like the AXS map using the rating and opinions of others to evaluate how easy their experience at a certain business may be.
5) Socially Responsible Businesses Are More Attractive To All
In a 2015 survey conducted by Cone Communications, 81 percent of consumers reported they are willing to make personal sacrifices, to support socially responsible businesses. When a company is trying to do good for its community and world, it builds consumer trust. This means that even people who do not need accommodations will be impressed by your work to be accessible, and may be more likely to support your business.
6) Tax Write-Offs and Financial Assistance
The ADA does not only set up standards for your business, but it also creates resources to help you meet those goals. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has provided a Disabled Access Credit (section 44) to help cover the cost of efforts you make towards meeting accessibility standards. Your deduction for this work can be up to $15,000 per year, making these efforts considerably more affordable.
7) Often Fairly Inexpensive
You can work out a plan to become more accessible as an ongoing process.
8) There is Room for Creativity
As a business owner, you have learned from experience that there is often more than one option to solving problems. Your business might not need a full makeover in order to become accessible. Instead, you can look for quick fixes that can make a huge difference. Adjusting the layout, removing articles from high shelves, or putting a ramp on steps can make a huge difference, with very little cost to you.
9) Communities Benefit When All People Can Participate
Prior to the passage of the ADA, the millions of people with disabilities often faced barriers that excluded them and made it impossible for them to function in life. People with disabilities were often sequestered and cut off from everyday life, unable to take part in social life or use public facilities. This deprived all of us from people with wisdom to share, a smile and kind word to give, or help in our daily life. By being open to people of all abilities, and accessible to all needs, an ADA compliant business enables people with disabilities to enrich the lives of your customers and employees.
10) Answers are Easy to Find
With the help of ADA Compliance Professionals, you can look carefully at your facilities and insure they follow the guidelines explained clearly in the ADA Small Business Guide. A Certified Access Specialist will carefully examine your facilities, and then help you make steps towards the appropriate modifications that need to be made.