Although the benefits of accessibility extend beyond compliance, it is important for employers to understand what is required by laws. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is an employer’s obligation to “provide access for an individual applicant to participate in the job application process, and for an individual employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of his/her job, including access to a building, to the work site, to needed equipment, and to all facilities used by employees.”
In addition to the building and work site, areas in which accessibility must be provided may include, but are not limited to:
- Parking lots (handicapped parking spaces).
- Fire alarms/emergency exits.
- Conference rooms and shared work space.
- Desks and personal work space.
- Hallways and stairwells.
The ADA National Network is also a good source for guidance about accessibility; employers can contact one of 10 regional ADA Centers for one-on-one assistance. When it comes to planning events and meetings, including workplace social gatherings, the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center’s Guide to Accessible Meetings, Events and Conferences offers tips that can assist with factors such as site selection, audio-visual materials and catering.
Businesses that make modifications to improve workplace accessibility may be eligible for tax credits or deductions to help offset costs incurred. For more information see Tax Benefits for Businesses Who Have Employees with Disabilities.