This guide presents an informal overview of some basic ADA requirements for small businesses that provide goods or services to the public. It omits many of the "legal" terms that are found in the ADA and its regulations. But because it would be misleading to separate any explanation of ADA requirements from the law, references to key sections of the regulations or other information are included.
To get answers to questions about the ADA or to learn more about the law call the
Department of Justice ADA Information Line,toll-free
(1-800-514-0301 voice and 1-800-514-0383 TDD).
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits the exclusion of people with disabilities from everyday activities, such as buying an item at the store, watching a movie in a theater, enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, exercising at the local health club or having the car serviced at a local garage. To meet the goals of the ADA, the law established requirements for private businesses of all sizes. These requirements first went into effect on January 26, 1992, and continue for both for-profit and non-profit organizations.
For small businesses, compliance with the ADA is not difficult. To help businesses with their compliance efforts, Congress established a technical assistance program to answer questions about the ADA. Answers to your questions about the ADA are a phone call away. The Department of Justice operates a toll-free ADA Information Line (800- 514-0301 voice and 800-514-0383 TDD). In addition, tax credits and deductions were established that can be used annually to offset many costs of providing access to people with disabilities.
In recognition that many small businesses can not afford to make significant physical changes to their stores or places of business to provide accessibility to wheelchair users and other people with disabilities, the ADA has requirements for existing facilities built before 1993 that are less strict than for ones built after early 1993 or modified after early 1992.
Private Businesses that Serve the Public Public Accommodations
rivate businesses that provide goods or services to the public are called public accommodations in the ADA. The ADA establishes requirements for twelve categories of public accommodations, including stores and shops, restaurants and bars, service establishments, theaters, hotels, recreation facilities, private museums and schools and others. Nearly all types of private businesses that serve the public are included in the categories, regardless of size.
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 by "grandfather provisions" that are often used by building code officials.
These businesses may be large or small and can be for profit or non-profit.