Where to Start When Auditing Your Business’s ADA Compliance

As you know if you are a frequent reader of this blog, many states have seen spikes in the number of federal lawsuits filed under the ADA for alleged violations of accessibility requirements. Individual plaintiffs have filed upwards of one hundred lawsuits in some states. Class actions are also on the rise.

What can you do to protect your business from ADA lawsuits and determine if you are a likely target? If a complete audit of the your ADA compliance and renovation of non-complying features is not realistic or readily achievable, evaluating the hot spots which are the most frequent subjects of lawsuits is a good place to start. Many ADA violations in these areas are easy to spot and, in many cases, easy to fix.

Parking Spaces
Determine whether your business satisfies the ADA’s requirements for parking spaces. At the most basic level, make sure you are providing the appropriate number of disabled parking spaces. The number required is determined by your total number of available parking spaces. The ADA  also mandates specific size and slope requirements for accessible spaces.

Entrances and Doors
Make sure your entrances and doors do not create red flags. The ADA sets forth dimension requirements for accessible entrances, as well as requirements related to the slope and surface of entry ways. Entry ways need sufficient space around them for wheelchair maneuvering. Doors should have handles that can be grasped with one hand and do not require turning or significant strength to open.

Restrooms are a major source of recent ADA lawsuits. Your accessible restrooms must have a disabled access sign on the door and comply with specific dimension requirements. Door handles must satisfy similar requirements to main entrance doors. There are also specific placement requirements for toilets, urinals, sinks, and mirrors.

Parking spaces, entrances and doors, and restrooms are not the only subjects of recent ADA lawsuits, but they are good starting points when evaluating your compliance. As always, businesses should consider having an expert conduct an ADA compliance review on at least a yearly basis. You should also ensure that any construction or contracting work performed at your facility satisfies ADA accessibility standards.

Very special thanks to William & Mary 3rd year law student Sarah M. Hilbert for her invaluable research and writing contributions to this article.
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