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ADA and the Impact on Operations


When it comes to compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), many maintenance and engineering managers are concerned with more than the bricks and sticks. Policies, procedures and operational issues can demand just as much attention.

That is because ADA accessibility guidelines involve more than design and construction issues. There are a host of 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, such as Segways.

Managers should carefully consider these compliance stratgegies:

• If the facility is an assembly area, such as a sports, entertainment or performance venue, review existing policies and procedures for the availability, dispersal, and sale of wheelchair seating. If no policy exists, develop one.

• Managers in 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 might wind up talking to a federal judge or the U.S. Department of Justice.

The ADA is a complaint-driven law, and it is 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. Do not 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 is the right thing to do, and it is the smart thing to do.

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