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Understanding your disabled access rights to small businesses

One of the quintessential qualities of America is our commitment to equality for all citizens. That ideal holds special importance for those of us living with disabilities. The United States Congress has taken action and passed federal legislation that ensures that disabled people are not excluded from everyday life activities due to poor access. The American Disabilities Act requires all private businesses, regardless of size or profit status, to implement steps to ensure that disabled people can engage in simple acts like visiting movie theaters or eating at restaurants just like other able-bodied citizens.

In order to ensure that disabled people have access to public accommodations, the ADA requires businesses to comply with certain standards that affect accessibility. For example, ramped approaches to business entrances allow people in wheelchairs access inside. Another example is the use of pull-type handles on doors that allow people without the ability to grip with their hands a way to open doors. Still another example is providing for larger parking spots to allow people using wheelchair accessible vans sufficient clearance to get in and out of their vehicles.

When Congress established the ADA, they realized that these new requirements would place a financial burden on many small businesses. That's why the law is more lenient towards businesses that were established prior to when the ADA went into effect in 1992. Additionally, businesses can receive tax credits from the Internal Revenue Service that allow tax deductions for businesses that incur costs related to improving accessibility. In fact, every business is entitled to deduct up to $15,000 a year if they implement specific improvements like purchasing certain equipment or providing sign language interpreters.

Disabled New Jersey employees need to know that the ADA protects their rights to be able to do their jobs and earn a living by ensuring proper access. There are a few things you should know you if you are disabled and you believe that your employer is discriminating against you. An attorney with experience in workplace discrimination law can help assess the facts surrounding your particular case and determine whether you should move forward with a civil lawsuit. If successful, your employer may be compelled to end those discriminatory practices.

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration- Office of Entrepreneurial Development, "Americans with Disabilities Act ADA Guide for Small Businesses," accessed May. 13, 2015

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