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ADA: Impact on Operations


ADA

With ADA compliance, many maintenance and engineering managers must be concerned with more than the bricks and sticks. Policies, procedures and operational issues can demand just as much attention.

That's because changes made by DOJ involve more than design and construction issues. There are a host of new requirements for policies and procedures that affect all public accommodations. These include policies on the availability of accessible seating and ticketing policies, policies on reservations for accessible guest rooms in transient lodging, policies on the use of service animals, and policies on the use of wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices (e.g., Segways).

Facility managers can comply by doing the following:

1. If the facility is an assembly area, such as sports, entertainment or performance venues, review existing policies and procedures for the availability, dispersal and sale of wheelchair seating. If there is no policy, now's the time to develop one.

2. Facility managers at all public accommodations, including commercial office buildings, need to review or develop policies on service animals, power-driven mobility devices and effective communications.

Having thorough policies and procedures and communicating to employees is critical. One can build the Taj Mahal of accessibility, but if someone with a disability is not treated appropriately by security, receptionists or sales people, one may wind up talking to a federal judge or the Justice Department.

Remember that the ADA is a complaint-driven law, and it's not going away. Also keep in mind that people with disabilities represent the largest and fastest growing minority in the United States — and the one with the greatest spending power. Don't lock customers out and risk a lawsuit (or bad publicity) at the same time. Be proactive in ADA compliance efforts and maximize the return on investment. It's the right thing to do, and it's the smart thing to do.

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