The number of Americans living with disabilities is larger than many think. The Census Bureau reports that more than 1 in 10 of us—12.7 percent—have a disability. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the number at 1 in 4 U.S. adults, or 61 million people. Under the ADA, a set of laws are in place for restaurants and other businesses to accommodate those with disabilities.
The ADA that was signed in 1990 covers much more than just handicap spots and convenience of grab bars. It covers other things like transmitting information effectively, the width and slope of wheel chair ramps, accessible bathrooms, and more. The industry is “supportive of the ADA,” says Angelo Amador, senior vice president of legal advocacy and regulatory counsel for the National Restaurant Association. “We provide all types of guidance for restaurants,” he says. This includes a publication that addresses many ADA issues.
There are many issues that limited-service restaurant operators need to consider when it comes to the ADA and disabled customers, says Harry Kelly, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of law firm Nixon Peabody who deals with real estate and accessibility matters. She tells clients to have a plan in place to deal with all aspects of the ADA. Training employees on the law, teaching them to conduct checks on bathrooms and points of access, watching for procedural hiccups, and continuously performing updates to make sure restaurants are within the law are helpful measures. “You have an ongoing duty to be compliant,” she says.
To learn more on ADA compliance in restaurants, visit qsrmagazine.com.