5 Must-Haves to Ensure the Workplace is ADA Compliant
When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was introduced in 1990, businesses had to make changes to ensure they were providing equal opportunities and access to employees and job applicants with disabilities. It’s also an ethical obligation that creates a more inclusive work environment.
Although the act has been in place for a few decades, some employers or new startup businesses might not understand what is involved with ADA employer compliance requirements. Here are the five must-haves to ensure you are meeting the requirements for ADA workplace compliance.
1. Avoid General (or Personal) Views About Disabilities
First and very importantly, not all disabilities are obvious. You should never make assumptions about what you or others should consider being a disability. To meet ADA requirements, an employee or potential new hire must be treated fairly if they mention that they have a disability, whether it is mental or physical.
It is not up to you to decide if you feel it is a disability. If an individual brings the disability to your attention, you are responsible for adhering to the ADA guidelines to ensure the person’s needs are met. If you decide you don’t feel it is necessary, you could face legal action.
2. Always Follow the Official Process
Make sure you are following the process that has been provided by the government. When in doubt, refer to guidelines to make sure you are not missing an important detail. The process is in place to make it easier for employers to understand how to meet an employee’s workplace disability needs. It also provides measures to assist the employee in the workplace and how to implement them. It is not a choice to take these measures; it’s the law.
You must follow the official process when you are looking into an employee’s disability. This allows you to determine if you can make the accommodations required to make it easy for the employee to work at your business. This is referred to as “reasonable accommodation.”
The government takes into consideration that not all businesses will be able to reasonably make changes to accommodate every disability. However, if you fail to follow the correct procedures to look into what is involved in reasonable accommodation, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to legal challenges. Compliance with ADA regulations also involves taking the necessary steps to arrive at a fair solution when you can.
3. Document Everything
When you are involved in any steps taken in relation to ADA regulations, you have to document everything. If you don’t, and a dispute arises, you won’t be able to prove that you followed the rules. Even if something seems insignificant, make sure it is included if it relates to the process or the employee/applicant. This will prepare you for a lawsuit claiming you violated ADA regulations or discriminated against someone with a disability.
4. Treat Everyone as an Individual
It’s easy to get bogged down with rules and paperwork, but you are dealing with an individual. Going back to point #1, every disability is different. Make sure you see the person for who they are and deal with them as a person with individual needs.
You will need to come up with individualized solutions that make it easy for the employee to join your team. Even employees with the same disabilities will still have separate needs to some extent. Make sure you are noting the specifics of what an employee tells you regarding their condition so that you can respond based on their situation. You can also keep accurate employee records based on the latest information they provide.
There should never be a “standard” set of accommodations for any one disability. Understanding disabilities will also assist you in administering the most suitable benefits for the individual.
5. Web Content Accessibility
Many companies are unaware that accommodations are not limited to changes you might make at your workspace. ADA workplace compliance also includes regulations regarding digital properties, which includes your website, job portal, software, and inter-office documents.
There are technical requirements to be pursued within the ADA guidelines. Complete ADA compliance can be difficult to achieve, but the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 provide you with all the information needed to understand the rules. Because technology is constantly changing, this is an area you will have to check regularly. You might also have to hire an expert to evaluate your web content to ensure you are meeting the requirements.
Having an inclusive workplace where a diverse group of people can succeed helps create empathetic, socially responsible organizations. These five must-haves will ensure you are adhering to ADA workplace compliance.
About The Author
Kayla is the Marketing Manager at Paypro Corporation overseeing all inbound and outbound marketing and sales efforts. She has 7+ years of experience working within the B2B and SaaS based solutions space and thrives on creating messaging and campaigns that introduce products and services to those who need them most.