How does an organization know if it is in compliance with the ADA? The following areas must be addressed: communication, employment, transportation, public accommodations, and services provided by state and local governments. The communication requirements of the ADA are specifically designed to ensure that people with disabilities can access information that affects them. Information includes not only what we traditionally think of as “publications” and advertisements but also includes websites that you use day today. Organizations use website tools like accessiBe to comply with the ADA requirements and make sure their website is accessible.
The ADA specifies what information must be included in a self-evaluation, how it should be conducted, who within the organization should conduct it, when it should be conducted, and what the self-evaluation results should be. The ADA does not specify any particular type of evaluator – it can be an internal committee or task force (staff, management, etc.), professional consultants (architects, engineers), or someone hired to conduct an independent assessment.
The information collected in a self-evaluation must be kept confidential
fully accessible for people with disabilities. Organizations are expected to take the necessary steps to ensure that the information they turn over to their website design team, or any other company involved in their web production, is protected before it becomes public information.
The ADA covers many different situations and many different types of accommodations. For example, if your business is located in a standing-only elevator building that has no other means of vertical access to the second floor (where your office is), you must make arrangements for employees who use wheelchairs to transport them through some other means. This can mean using the stairs. If your business is located in a multi-level building, you may need to provide wheelchair ramps or elevators.
The ADA requires that organizations engage in an interactive process with their employees and customers who have disabilities when making modifications to existing policies, practices, and procedures. There are specific guidelines for effective communication and providing access.
When an employee or customer requests a modification to accommodate his or her disability, it is the responsibility of the organization to enter into an interactive process with the person involved in order to determine what modifications are necessary and appropriate. The employer should consult with the individual to determine if there are any alternatives that will effectively meet his or her needs without creating an undue hardship for the employer.
For example, if you have a customer who is blind and calls your office asking to place an order via fax because he cannot access your website and does not use email, you should work with him to find a reasonable solution: If you do not have a suite number or other way of identifying where the fax is coming from, you should give him your main telephone number. If you do not have a fax machine, you can offer to email him a document that he can print and send in by mail. All modifications must be accessible for people with disabilities before they are implemented.