Two large changes loom in the horizon for disability access in California. President-Elect Barack Obama plans to start a Disability Department to help integrate disabled Americans into mainstream society. Currently, a large number of Americans who have disabilities are barred from attending educational institutions or seeking employment with small businesses because 1) disabled Americans stand to potentially lose their government funding if they enter the work force and 2) small businesses can’t offer the comprehensive health care coverage that the disabled often need. Obama intends to change all this. His comprehensive plans include providing incentives for businesses to hire the disabled, incentives for businesses to provide increased health-care coverage and to fully fund the Disabilities Education Act. Combined with the ADA Amendment Act of 2008 which expands the definition of who is legally considered disabled, we can all expect a greater level of scrutiny applied to disabilities in general. With more disabled citizens out on the streets, going to school, going to work, and going out to lunch, there will be an definite increase in the need for public access on all walks of life.
The second change comes from the state level. Recently, Governor Schwarzenegger and the California State Assembly passed S.B. 1608, which is meant to curtail frivolous lawsuits and encourage business owners to make their buildings accessible. S.B. 1608 also has provisions for requiring cities and building departments to retain accessibility experts in order to ensure that the city become and maintain its accessible features. For those leasing or thinking about leasing, accessibility inspections become even more imperative. Instead of inheriting a building full of accessibility barriers, many business owners and landlords are taking the extra step to comply with the ADA. However, incomplete knowledge can give a false sense of security that still leaves your business open to a lawsuit.
For example, did you know that under California and Federal Law you need two signs for the restroom door? Or that the accessible parking space must be on a level surface closest to the main entrance?
That’s why more and more businesses are turning to professional accessibility consultants before opening their doors. Protect yourself by requesting an accessibility assessment today. For questions, call Yours Truly Accessibility at (866) 982-3212.