Compliance with ADA Laws Can Improve Small Businesses

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Did you know that over 30 million Americans over the age of 18 can’t read standard sized print?

business woman squiting to read a document that doesnt meet compliance.

It’s true. And 30 million might seem like a large number, but it’s actually on the conservative side. Consider the number of Baby Boomers who are facing medical issues that affect eyesight. Diabetes, macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and autoimmune disease are just some of the issues that are creating more visual impairments in the American population.

ADA compliance is a valuable tool to make your products and services available to more people and increase profitability.

Know the law to keep your small business ADA compliant

Many small business owners think ADA accessibility doesn’t apply to their organization, or they’re confused about the specifics of the ADA laws. The American’s with Disabilities Act is clear about one thing: all organizations had to be in compliance by 2012.

One of the most common misconceptions pertains to removing barriers for equal access to goods, services, information and programs. It is assumed that this part of the law only pertains to structural access, but the ADA also defines barriers as communication barriers. Communication barriers are barriers regarding communicating with customers who have a sensory, visual, reading and intellectual disabilities.

A good rule of thumb to remember is: If a person cannot access information, for any reason, it is a barrier.

The solution for removing communication barriers is to provide an alternative method of communication. For someone with blindness, or a visual or reading disability, an alternative to printed documents should be provided.

Research appropriate compliance solutions

Alternatives to printed documents are braille, large print, audio and 508 compliant WCAG 2.0 AA websites, electronic data and PDFs. The Effective Communication Rule outlines the responsibilities businesses must follow to be in full ADA compliance.

If the task of making your business more accessible seems too daunting, consider this other key piece of ADA compliance: The ADA requires businesses to make “reasonable modifications” for customers with disabilities. What is reasonable modifications for your business? We recommend contacting an attorney to see what your organization’s responsibilities and liabilities are regarding ADA compliance.

African American business man reading the business part of the newspaper.

ADA compliance helps your business grow

In 2010 the US Census Bureau reported that 1 in 5 Americans have a disability. That’s nearly 56.7 million people! Over half of the total number of people with disabilities has a visual impairment or reading disability; that is over 30-million people. Chances are better than good that some of those people are your customers, or could be.

Compete with the big guys.
National and global corporations attract people with disabilities because they are often more accessible. Your company can shift this trend and increase profitability by meeting the needs of all consumers. Imagine the buying power your business could attract by including everyone, in all areas of service.

Gain local affinity.
Many people shop with small businesses to keep money local and to feel good as a consumer. Let your customers know that you support equality for all people by being ADA accessible; it adds another reason to shop with your small business.

Take advantage of tax credits.
Small businesses can receive a $15,000 tax credit each year for being ADA compliant. To make ADA compliance easier for small businesses, the federal government has created a guide for small businesses and is offering a tax credit to assist in the removal of barriers, including communication barriers.

Now is the time to take steps toward ADA compliance. Increase profitability, improve your brand, and best of all, be a champion for over 30 million Americans.

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This post was written by Christine Sket

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