ADA Compliance Meeting Offers Invaluable Information
More than 120 conscientious business owners and managers came to Downtown Riverside last Friday, eager to learn what they need to know about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted in 1990 as civil rights legislation and has been amended several times to prohibit discrimination, provide reasonable accommodations and establish greater public access for all Americans. And while ADA law can be confusing for business and building owners, understanding their rights and responsibilities is crucial.
To address some of the most common violations and educate businesses on how to become compliant, the Office of Senator Richard D. Roth and the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce co-sponsored a free seminar at the County Administrative Center on March 6th. Speakers included Kim Stone, President of California Justice Association of California (CJAC) and Ida Clair, Senior Architect of the Certified Access Specialist Program (CASp) Division of the State Architect. Both gave very informative presentations and fielded a wide range of questions addressing the common red flags encountered by businesses.
The most frequent problem areas for businesses, according to CJAC President Kim Stone, include parking lot signage, disabled parking areas, entry and exiting access, internal doors, restrooms and general navigating ability throughout business spaces. Additionally, businesses that operate in leased space often wrongly assume that the liability for any violations falls strictly on the owner of the building. This is not always the case.
The US Department of Justice provides information on ADA Law including design standards, technical assistance materials and enforcement procedures on their web site at www.ada.gov. However, because of the complexity of ADA law and the potential for significant financial hardship if a business is cited, experts at the meeting highly recommended that businesses stay ahead of the curve by hiring a CASp specialist to come make an inspection and guide business owners and managers on compliance errors before they run into legal issues.
The City of Riverside is an inclusive community, continually striving for greater citizen engagement to create a better life for all. The message from Friday’s discussion is an important one. Too often businesses are unaware that they are not in compliance with ADA requirements, which can lead to expensive fines and legal fees. Business owners must know their rights and seek advice and education. Together we can make Riverside safe, prosperous and more accessible for everyone.