Why is ADA Compliance important?
Join me in a thought experiment here.
Imagine that you’re throwing a party. A big party. You want to throw the biggest party ever and you want as many people as possible to come to your party. You spend time and money setting up your party, you get food, you get drinks, you get a whole bunch of activities set up. Wow, it’s going to be such a great party, but you need it to be big in order to justify how much time and effort you put into this party.
Now let’s say after all that work, you put a sign outside that says “ONLY 4 IN 5 PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED.”
Wasn’t your goal to get as many people as possible to come to your party? Wasn’t your goal to have the biggest party ever? Why would you ever put up a sign like that which tells one in five people just to stay away from your party?
You wouldn’t do that.
No one would ever do that.
But you’d be surprised at how many people actually, in real life, do that all the time.
Because when your business isn’t using ADA Compliant construction or hiring an ADA compliant contractor, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
1 in 5 Americans are Living with a Disability
It’s true, according to the latest statistics.
That seems like a lot, but thems the facts. Now, knowing that…
You’re trying to get everyone who is interested in your business to come to your business. When your business isn’t up to ADA code, that’s like putting a sign outside that says “HEY YOU, YOU CAN’T COME TO MY PARTY!” And you’re saying that to about 20% of the population.
But of course, you didn’t mean to do that!
Of course you want all customers to feel welcome in your place of business. You want all of your employees to be able to get their jobs done, and you want prospective talent to know that they can work at your company.
Most businesses are trying to do the right thing, but they don’t know what the ADA codes are. That’s what you pay contractors for. We are supposed to know what the codes are.
Believe it or not, the ADA Guidelines are there to help you.
If you’ve been in this business long enough, you’ve heard plenty of people grumble about how the Americans with Disabilities Act is “just there to give people an excuse to file lawsuits and for lawyers to make money.” Lawsuits are something you always want to avoid, but we think of it a little differently.
Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is like hanging a big sign outside your business saying “ALL ARE WELCOME.”
The ADA guidelines are the best guide we have to making our spaces accessible to our customers and employees. This way, you’re leaving no customer unserved and the next big talent isn’t going to go work for your competitor–they are going to work for you.
Being ADA compliant means you welcome your customers in, you show them you care and that you want their business. And when you don’t give a thought to ADA compliance…
Not only will you lose customers, but you’ll make them angry. And that’s when the lawsuits come in.
Some potential customers won’t be satisfied just to take their business elsewhere. Sometimes, they’ll roast you for it online. And sometimes, your situation might be so bad that they take matters to a lawyer. Now you not only lost a customer, but now you’re involved in a potentially very expensive lawsuit. That’s losing money two ways.
Look, it’s really simple: how much money are you willing to lose not serving people with disabilities? If you answered $0, you’re in the right place.
You don’t have to know all the answers, but the contractor building your ADA compliant parking lot should.
You would be shocked to know how many parking lots, entryways and even ramps aren’t ADA compliant. This is thousands of dollars spent by people genuinely hoping to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the contractor either didn’t know the specifications or didn’t care to do it right. They didn’t know the proper striping for ADA accessible parking spaces and access aisles. They didn’t know about accessible entrances and ADA ramp codes. They didn’t know the proper height of ADA signage.
It’s a lot to know. But it’s not your job to know. It’s our job to know.
It’s not only our job to know but it’s our job to care about getting it done right. You shouldn’t have to do your own homework what the codes are for an ADA parking lot, or what the codes for an ADA ramp are. That’s a contractor’s job and a contractor should take pride in it.
“Look, I Don’t Care About ‘Compliant’ I just Care if it Works.”
This is a tough one, because we completely understand it. You have a particular way you want things set up and full ADA Compliance may not fulfill your vision. It’s tough because you, as the customer, are always right. You’re going to pay us to do the job you want us to do–not necessarily the job we recommended you do.
Let me put it bluntly: if it’s not Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, it doesn’t work. ADA construction is not about “good enough for now.” It’s either right or it’s wrong, and if it’s wrong, you’re not only going to be missing out on business but you’re running the risk of the lawsuits that you paid your contractor good money to avoid.
The regulations are not there to punish you or make you more vulnerable to lawsuits. These regulations are researched by experts, documented, debated over and debated over again before they become law. Yes, they are strict. Yes, they are exacting. But that’s because this is the best way that experts have figured out how to make our public accommodations and private business entrances work in the best way possible so we can serve the greatest amount of people possible.
So listen to us when we give you our best recommendation and advice for how to stripe or grade, and please do take it!
And that’s what we want to do, right? Serve the most amount of customers possible?
This blog post wasn’t about specifics for how to follow ADA codes and regulations, the proper length and width of a van accessible space or the proper number of accessible parking spaces you need to have (we will get into all that in some later blog posts). This is about something maybe even more important: it’s about why we want to have our spaces be ADA compliant.
And it’s not just about avoiding lawsuits. It’s about serving our customers–all of our customers–no matter where they come from or what disabilities they carry with them.