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A lot of changes have been made to the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act over the last few years, making it difficult for many businesses to properly follow the law.
In response, the Department of Justice issued a new guide earlier this month, the ADA Update: A Primer for Small Businesses, aiming to clarify those changes and help promote compliance.
Under the ADA, small business owners must accommodate both employees and customers in ways that require a consideration of what is and is not reasonable under the circumstances.
The new guide considers the challenges of accommodation decision-making, providing concrete examples and guidelines for common situations. It includes advice on service animals, motorized wheelchairs, customer communication, parking and physical modifications.
If an employee or customer requests an accommodation under the ADA, small business owners would be wise to first consult the guide before making a rash decision. They can also call a host of governmental entities listed in the guide that can provide assistance.
And if all else fails, they can call a lawyer.
As an aside, under the ADA, small business owners covered by the legislation must have began complying with the general nondiscrimination rules promulgated under the Act as of March 15, 2011.
They must also comply with the 2010 Standards, which deal with physical accessibility of new and modified facilities, by March 15, 2012.
So if you're a small business owner and have yet to look into these changes and deadlines, it's about time you do.