Every day of the week I talk to clients who are building new stores or remodeling old ones.
Every day I have a discussion with those clients about the Federal, State and City ADA rules for handicapped access.
Every day I get looks of disbelief.
The common responses:
Those rules don't apply in this town.
Our space is too small for that.
I don't have any handicapped customers
I don't have any handicapped employees.
We are in compliance, (I think?)
I've been here 20 years without a problem. Why change now?
The landlords are responsible.
The list goes on. Of course my job is not to beat customers over the head with ADA rules and regulations.
We're all adults. I tell you what the rules are and you ignore them if you like.
If the City won't issue a permit or a give you a final notice of occupancy or you get sued by a customer for failing to provide access, I did my job by bringing the matter to your attention and you made a choice to ignore that advise. I'm not one to go, " Na na I told you so". (maybe sometimes).
However, there are really two issues here. The first is what do the Feds require? The second is why do they require them?
The "what" in a retail environment is typically access for the handicapped to the front door, bathrooms, dressing rooms and the sales counter.
The "why" is because sitting in a wheelchair and trying to navigate a normal life is already very difficult. Curbs, stairs, too small bathrooms and dressing rooms and awkward or limited access to a front counter makes life even tougher. Our government with the help of handicapped advocates has developed rules to make ADA access reasonably easy for all parties involved. To that end they have developed a series of carrot and stick rules for retailers. Comply and you won't be sued or fined. Don't comply and both may occur.
In this post I'm not going to go through every ADA rule for your retail store. I'm simply going to say that compliance is a lot easier to accept than the penalties.
Beyond that, it's the right thing to do.
If you need some help with the basic rules give me a call and I'll review them with you, "on the house".