By Maria Valdez Haubrich
Is your business affected by new rules governing the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)? In March some important changes took place that affect how businesses hire and serve the more than 50,000 Americans with disabilities. Here’s a closer look:
Customers With Disabilities: The Department of Justice made some changes to the ADA that affect how businesses treat people with disabilities as customers. You can find a DOJ handbook explaining all the new rules here. The handbook explains what businesses are affected, the changes your business may need to make to the inside and outside of your building, changes regarding service policies and service animals, mobility devices like wheelchairs and how you communicate with customers who have disabilities.
If this sounds like a lot of costly changes, there’s good news for small businesses worried about huge expenses: The new rules state businesses will only need to make modifications if they are “easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense.”
Employees With Disabilities: On March 25, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a final rule implementing the equal employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).
The ADAAA significantly expanded the definition of “disability,” meaning that more workers are considered disabled under the ADA and more employers will have to make reasonable accommodations to enable these employees to compete in the workplace.
The EEOC has created a guide to help small businesses comply with these regulations, Questions and Answers for Small Businesses: The Final Rule Implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The booklet explains which small businesses need to comply, how “disability” is defined and what constitutes reasonable accommodations to a disability.
You can find out more about the employment provisions of the ADA by visiting the EEOC website at www.eeoc.gov or calling the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY).
Need extra help? The EEOC’s Small Business Liaisons provides confidential assistance to employers.
Image by Flickr users Tim & Selena Middleton (Creative Commons)Google+