Though the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed on July 26, 1990, many employers, state and local government agencies and private businesses remain unaware of their compliance obligations.
Also, almost 24 years after the ADA became law, many people with disabilities are not aware of specific protections against discrimination.
Five common ADA violations are mentioned below.
- Insufficient facility access
- No assistance with pumping gasoline
- Differential workplace treatment following disability disclosure
- Refusing to permit service dogs
- Strollers occupying wheelchair designated spots on public transit
Clear, wide paths
Many people have not considered basics that enable people with mobility disabilities to access public buildings. Clear wide paths without stairs permit most persons to enter and maneuver inside buildings.
An “accessible route” is at least three feet wide and is not blocked by furniture or other items. Doorways can be barriers for people who have mobility disabilities. Accessible doorways must be at least 32 inch wide. A doorway 34 inches wide is better for people who use mobility
devices, such as walkers and wheelchairs.
Heavy doors present another challenge to individuals who have limited upper body strength or hand dexterity. Adequate clear space permits people with mobility disabilities to open the door, enter through the doorway and close the door. Doors that close quickly do not permit all persons to enter safely.
Traditional doorknobs are not accessible. Accessible door hardware must be operable with one hand, without tight grasping and twisting to turn. Though automatic doors can provide greater accessibility, they are not required by the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
Some people with disabilities are unable to operate a gasoline pump. The ADA requires businesses with more than one employee on duty to provide
fueling assistance without a fee when requested by an individual with a disability. Posting signage for those requiring refueling assistance is helpful.
Only qualified applicants
ADA Title I applies to private employers with 15 or more employees and all state and local government employers. Some employers incorrectly assume
they are required to hire unqualified applicants who disclose disabilities. The ADA considers an applicant or employee to be qualified if he or
she possesses the required skills, experience and education for the position and can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
The ADA requires equal employment opportunities for all applicants and employees. Therefore, employers are not required to provide preferential
treatment to applicants and employees who disclose disabilities.
All applicants and employees should be held to the same production and performance standards. Applicants and employees with disabilities should
never be evaluated on a lower standard or disciplined differently than any employee who does not have disabilities.
Where pets are prohibited, service animals must be permitted access wherever the public is allowed. frequently place strollers in those designated spots, those spots must be relinquished whenever needed by riders who use wheelchairs.
Businesses unknowingly violate the law when they request identifying factors such as a vest or certification papers to confirm that a dog accompanying a person with a disability is indeed a service animal.
The ADA specifies that though people can be asked if the dog is a service animal required because of a disability, inquiring about the nature of extent of an individual’s disability violates the law. The only other question that is permissible is what task or tasks the dog is individually trained to perform that are directly related to the person’s disabilities.
Accommodating service animals
Service animals cannot be denied access because others have allergies and or fear dogs. Distance can be placed between those individuals and persons who use service animals.
Spots where there are no seats near the front of public transportation are intended to be used by individuals who use wheelchairs. Though people frequently place strollers in those designated spots, those spots must be relinquished whenever needed by riders who use wheelchairs.
ADA text, Standards for Accessible Design, technical assistance materials and enforcement information can be viewed ada.gov. Other helpful links for publications, information and resources include adainfo.org and adata.org.
Cindy Powell is executive director for community based private non-profit ACESO Foundation, a resource in providing public customized disability and sign language training. She provides customized training on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), tax incentives and other helpful topics, such as disability etiquette and service animals.