September 19, 2011
The latest version of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect last March, as the first major revisions in 20 years were made on the policy. The regulations affect the activities of more than 80,000 units of state and local government and more than 7 million places of public accommodation, including hotels.
The new alterations to the policy improve the standard of living for more than 50 million individuals with disabilities in the United States, reports Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. In a country where 18 percent of the population has a physical disability, the need to allow them the same amenities and resources that other people enjoy has become a main topic among civil rights organizations. The new rules will expand accessibility in a number of industries and provide detailed guidelines for businesses of all sizes on how to make their services more accessible to those with disabilities.
The new regulations also expand on general nondiscrimination policies that were set up in 2010 and were officially put into effect in March of 2011. Businesses are required to make amendments by allowing service animals, the use of wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices - reserving and guaranteeing accessible rooms at hotels and providing interpreter services are among a few of the new policies.
Businesses covered by the ADA are required to modify their policies, procedures and public buildings where necessary in order to better serve customers with disabilities. The deadline established by the ADA for completed alterations is March 15, 2012. To assist businesses in complying with the ADA, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code, Section 190, will help fund construction and preparation costs for organizations by providing tax deductions of up to $15,000 per year.
The hotel industry is just one of many that must implement new policies in order to accommodate ADA requirements. In some cases, facilities will have to completely alter their structures and operations to make room for new wheelchair-accessible entrances. In addition, finding new ways to budget for interpreter and communication services will be on the top of many agendas.
To assist in making these types of updates, Avendra-approved suppliers such as HD Supply and Grainger offer products and services to help customers comply with the ADA. In addition, fitness equipment providers are updating workout facilities across the country to meet the new requirements. Similarly, pool-care providers such as Leslie's, offer a variety of equipment such as pool lifts and installation services. Alliance Laundry Systems and Laundrylux also offer accessible guest laundry equipment.
With projections for approximately 71.5 million baby boomers over the age of 65 by the year 2030, there is a growing need to make public buildings meet their physical needs. Studies by the U.S. Department of Justice: Civil Rights Division show that once people with disabilities find a business where they can shop or get services in an accessible manner, they become loyal and repeat customers. Businesses would greatly benefit from making alterations as soon as possible in order to better accommodate people with physical disabilities and get a foothold in the market.