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How business owners can train their staff on ADA compliance for customers

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2024 | ADA |

As a business owner, you know that you must comply with every applicable Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California state requirement to be as accessible to all customers and visitors. Your operations may more than meet the minimum requirements.

However, if your front-line employees aren’t knowledgeable about all the accessibility features you offer and don’t treat customers and visitors with respect, you can find yourself facing legal issues. Moreover, your company may gain a reputation for not being somewhere that those with disabilities feel welcome.

This may be particularly important for those in the hospitality industry. Hotels, restaurants and theaters, for example, are generally places that people go to enjoy themselves – not because they have to. Having the minimum accommodations, like ramps and wheelchair-accessible rooms isn’t enough for a lot of people. No one wants to feel like a second-class citizen, being brought in through a back entrance of a restaurant or theater, seated in the back or relegated to a tiny hotel room with no view.

A well-trained staff can make all the difference in whether customers return or warn others on one of the many review sites tailored for those with accessibility needs. Even worse, if an employee isn’t aware of an accessible option you have, you could find yourself on the wrong end of legal action.

What all front-line staff need to know

It’s crucial that ADA training for front-life staff be thorough and on-going. Here are just a few things to reinforce:

  • Treat everyone with respect, but not pity.
  • Don’t touch, move or take someone’s mobility aid without their permission.
  • You can ask if and how you can help, but don’t assume you know what a person needs or wants.
  • Speak directly to someone – not just to their companion, if they have one. Don’t make assumptions about what people can and can’t understand.
  • Don’t follow disabled guests around or watch them, assuming they need help. If they do, they’ll ask for it.

Make sure your staff has a complete list of all of your accessibility options on the property and the website. It’s also wise to give your front-line employees some training in how best to interact with people who have hearing, vision and other specific disabilities.

Having a staff that treats ADA and other accessibility requirements as something that they’re happy to offer can help ensure that your business isn’t credibly accused of being inaccessible. If you have concerns or questions, it’s wise to get legal guidance proactively.