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Are Your Summer Policies ADA-Friendly?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Small businesses often switch things up over the summer. You might open up a patio, add some outdoor seating, or sponsor or host some outdoor events. You may also be a small business -- like a camp -- that functions primarily in the summer. Either way, your business must comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for accessibility year-round.

So how can you make sure you're ADA-compliant this summer? Here are a few keys to consider.

Sunny Seats and Airy Aisles

Whether your seating is indoors or outdoors, there are strict ADA guidelines on tables and aisles to provide space and accessibility for patrons with disabilities. When serving customers, five percent of fixed seating and tables must be accessible, and the "same requirements apply to fixed tables in outdoor areas such as picnic areas, playgrounds or patios."

According to the Small Business Administration and Justice Department:

An accessible table has a surface height of no more than 34 inches and no less than 28 inches above the floor. At least 27 inches of knee clearance must be provided between the floor and the underside of the table. An accessible route provides access to each accessible table and a clear floor area 30 inches by 48 inches is provided at each accessible seating location. This clear floor area extends 19 inches under the table to provide leg and knee clearance.

The DOJ also provides standards for accessible design for outdoor restrooms.

Outdoor Gatherings

If you're hosting a summer-specific outdoor event, like a concert, movie, or sporting event, the ADA requires that wheelchair spaces and companion seats be dispersed to all levels that include seating served by an accessible route. Additionally, outdoor assembly areas are required to horizontally disperse wheelchair spaces and companion seats and have seating encircling a field of play or performance area must also disperse wheelchair spaces and companion seats around that field of play or performance area.

And wheelchair spaces and companion seats are not permitted on temporary platforms or other movable structures, unless fixed seating is not provided and an entire seating section is placed on temporary platforms.

ADA-Compliant Camps

As the U.S. Attorney's Office points out, "Children with learning, mental health, and/or physical disabilities have the same rights to attend summer camp as their non-disabled peers, and cannot be denied admission due to their disability." Therefore, summer camps must provide reasonable modifications of their policies, practices, and procedures to enable campers with disabilities to
participate fully in camp programs, and cannot pass on any costs of the modifications to parents of those campers.

You must also train your staff on ADA requirements, including how to administer daily medicines required by campers with disabilities as well as emergency medications.

For more questions about ADA compliance this summer, contact a local business lawyer.

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