Ask the ADA

3 ADA rules businesses should follow

By RACHAEL STAFFORD Project Director
Rocky Mountain ADA Center

Every day, our team at The Rocky Mountain ADA Center, receives questions from the community about The Americans with Disability Act (ADA). We are pleased to partner with ApostropheMagazine.com to share some questions we’ve received from from people who use our services. Below find three ADA rules businesses should follow:

1. I want to hire a professional to audit my business to ensure that it is ADA Compliant. What kind of certification should I look for from an ADA consultant?

The ADA does not authorize the “certification” or “licensing” of inspectors to do ADA compliance inspections, and it doesn’t approve or endorse any products or designs as being in compliance with the ADA. Any individual or business claiming to have such a certification or endorsement may be violating various state and federal laws that prohibit fraud and misrepresentation. There are many qualified architects and others professionals across the country who provide assistance to businesses seeking to comply with the law but none are licensed by the federal government. Anyone interested in hiring a private ADA consultant should consult the local Better Business Bureau, check professional references and ADA experience of any consultant. No one should hire an ADA consultant who lacks training and professional experience. Remember that you can also consult your local ADA center for guidance or possible referrals by calling 800-949-4232.

2. My mother has vision loss, and cannot read regular print documents. Can she request that the city provide her bills and invoices in Braille and/or large print?

Tax bills and other written communications provided by public entities are subject to the requirement for effective communication. Thus, where a public entity provides information in written form it must when requested make that information available to individuals with vision impairments in a form that is usable by them. Large print versions of written documents may be produced on a copier with enlargement capacities. Braille versions of documents produced by computers may be produced with a Braille printer, or audio tapes may be provided for individuals who are unable to read large print or do not use Braille. Providing an electronic format is another option, if this is effective for the user.

When an auxiliary aid or service is required, the public entity must provide an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to request the auxiliary aids and services of their choice and must give primary consideration to the choice expressed by the individual. “Primary consideration” means that the public entity must honor the choice, unless it can demonstrate that another equally effective means of communication is available, or that use of the means chosen would result in a fundamental alteration in the service, program, or activity or in undue financial and administrative burdens.

3. Our county general relief program provides emergency food, shelter, and cash grants to individuals who can demonstrate their eligibility. The application process, however, is extremely lengthy and complex. When many individuals with mental disabilities apply for benefits, they are unable to complete the application process successfully, and I am concerned that there may be individuals that are being denied benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled. What are our requirements under the ADA?

A public entity must reasonably modify its policies, practices or procedures to avoid discrimination. In this case, the county has an obligation to make reasonable modifications to its application process to ensure that otherwise eligible individuals are not denied needed benefits. Modifications to the relief program might include simplifying the application process or providing applicants who have mental disabilities with individualized assistance to complete the process. If the public entity can demonstrate that the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of its service, program or activity, it is not required to make the modification. But the continued obligation remains to find an alternate solution to ensure that discrimination does not occur.

Reminder: No H Word

Find more on The Rocky Mountain ADA Center’s No H Word campaign here.

We want to take a moment, aside from the Qs & As, to remind all of Apostrophe’s readers about The Rocky Mountain ADA Center’s No H Word campaign. If you like what you see, we encourage you to write us an essay about your feelings on the term, and we will post your piece with the others on the page.

Rachael Stafford is the project director for The Rocky Mountain ADA Center, which provides information, guidance and training on ADA for individuals and organizations. The Rocky Mountain ADA Center is one of 10, regional ADA Centers in the ADA National Network. Information provided in this article is intended solely as guidance and is not a determination of your legal rights or responsibilities under the ADA.
Find your regional ADA Center by calling 1-800-949-4232.

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