ADA: Success Through Communication

  January 6, 2011

I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is accessibility and communication.

Facilities, operations, and building occupants change regularly. As a result, maintenance and engineering managers need to communicate as thoroughly as possible about their departments' efforts to comply with access guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA.

One crucial step in this process is to designate an ADA coordinator. Managers should post the coordinator’s name, title, address, phone number, TDD/TTY number, and e-mail in a visible public location, and they should include this information in handbooks and other organizationwide publications. Managers also should post ADA-related notices in selected locations on the organization’s web site.

To ensure effective communication, managers also can use these tactics to communicate compliance efforts:
• Develop a brochure or a packet with information on ADA requirements, as well as information on contacting the ADA coordinator.
• Provide materials in accessible, alternate formats, including large print, taped materials and Braille.
• Provide accommodation statements on all public notices. Such statements should provide a contact person if an individual with a disability needs accommodation to participate in a program, service or activity.
• Seek input on accessibility from members of the public, individuals with disabilities, and organizations representing individuals with disabilities. Tools for this purpose include postings, surveys of facility users, organizations and site administrators, and newspaper notices.
• Finally, use appropriate terminology on all verbal and printed communication. For example, refer to individuals with disabilities as people first, so instead of saying "hearing-impaired person," say "person with a hearing impairment."


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