Last week in a telephone call I was reminded again as to how property and business owners struggle AGAINST the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In public most will say they support the ADA 100%, but when asked to make improvements to their businesses or properties to accommodate the disabled, many will spend thousands of dollars to “get out of it” instead of making the improvements and while they may be partially successful at “getting out if it”, most do not realize it’s only a temporary solution.
There are many ways businesses get out of making ADA improvements. Some simply are reactionary and when they get a lawsuit for violations of the ADA they simply make an out of court settlement and consider it the cost of doing business. This is unfortunate as this strategy does nothing to protect them against further lawsuits. I have seen businesses get ADA lawsuits 3 and 4 times and each time they pay out several thousands dollars and still have not made any improvements that will prevent future ADA lawsuits. This quite simply is a loosing strategy.
Another strategy is intentionally ignorance of the law. I can not tell you how many property and business owners say to me they had no idea they were out of compliance with the ADA. Along this same theme are owners who choose to only have isolated portions of their properties surveyed by an accessibility professional. They somehow believe that if they don’t know about all of the violations on their property or in their business then they can claim ignorance of the law. While not being a lawyer, I can certainly tell you this is not true and ignorance of the law is no a defense against an ADA lawsuits.
A third strategy commonly used by property and business owners is to try and comply, but do so by “cutting corners”. This usually happens after a lawsuit has been filed and the property or business owner decides to address the issue in the cheapest manner possible. This often involves blindly making corrections as described in the lawsuit and falsely believing they have fully addressed the problem not realizing that their property or business has several other violations that could and probably will be the subject of a lawsuit in the future.
Property and business owners need to understand there is no defense for not conforming to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and they should enlist the services of an accessibility professional ( CASp in California ) to help them navigate the often confusing world of accessibility. Not only does full compliance help to prevent lawsuits, it also increases revenues as there are many in the disabled community who only patronize properties and businesses that are fully compliant with the ADA.