Accessibility: Making Way for ADA

  September 7, 2011

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, responding to ADA changes.

When it comes to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, many facility 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 the U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ, involve more than design and construction issues. A host of new requirements for policies and procedures affect all public accommodations. The requirements include policies on:
• the availability of accessible seating and ticketing policies
• reservations for accessible guest rooms in transient lodging
• the use of service animals
• the use of wheelchairs and other powered mobility devices, such as Segways.

These new rules became effective March 15, 2011. Managers can prepare for them by taking a few important steps.

First, if the facility is an assembly area, such as sports, entertainment or performance venues, review existing policies and procedures for the availability, distribution, and sale of wheelchair seating. If no policy exists, develop one. Second, managers at all places of public accommodation need to review or develop policies on service animals, powered mobility devices and effective communications.

Having thorough policies and procedures and communicating them to employees is critical. One can build the Taj Mahal of accessibility, but a person with a disability who does not receive proper treatment from security personnel, receptionists or sales people might wind up talking to a federal judge or the DOJ. Be proactive in ADA compliance efforts, and maximize the return on investment. It's the right thing — and the smart thing — to do.


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