Reaching Out to Customers With Disabilities: Introduction A convenience store employee reaches for a bottle of juice from the top rack of a drink cooler for a woman using a power wheelchair.
Lesson 10: Information SourcesLesson 6: Maintaining AccessibilityLesson 8: Cost IssuesLesson 7: Transporting CustomersLesson 5: Alternate AccessLesson 4: Removing Barriers Lesson 1: Policies & ProceduresLesson 3: Accessible DesignLesson 2: Customer CommunicationsLesson 9: ADA Enforcement Introduction: Welcome to the Course

The Americans with Disabilities Act
A brief introduction

The goal of the ADA is to make it possible for people with disabilities to participate in the everyday commercial, economic, and social activities of American life. 

The law covers employment; state and local government programs, services, activities, and facilities; and businesses and nonprofit service providers.  This course focuses on the requirements that apply to businesses. 

The ADA divides businesses into two categories

1.  Businesses and non-profit organizations that provide goods and services to the public are called "public accommodations."  This includes pharmacies, grocers, other retailers, restaurants, hotels, banks, medical practices, legal offices, dry cleaners, night clubs, movie theaters, art galleries, health spas, amusement parks, schools, child care centers, and many other businesses. 

There are seven million businesses in the United States that fall in this category, ranging from major chains to small mom-and-pop establishments.  All the lessons in this course apply to businesses in this category.

2.  Businesses such as manufacturers or wholesalers are called "commercial facilities."  Because they do not serve the public directly, they are not public accommodations and they do not have to follow all the rules for public accommodations.  Lessons three, eight, nine, and ten apply to businesses in this category.

The ADA says people with disabilities are entitled to “the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations” that a public accommodation provides to its customers. In other words, every type of good or service a business provides to customers is covered by the ADA. All businesses that serve the public must provide equal opportunity for customers with disabilities.

The ADA asks public accommodations to take steps that are “readily achievable” or are “reasonable”or that do not constitute an “undue burden” to enable people with disabilities to be their customers and clients. These terms are explained later in the course. After taking the course, businesses that are willing to do simple, easy, and reasonable things to accommodate customers with disabilities will likely find it easy to comply with the ADA.

In a casual restaurant, an employee assists a
man using crutches, by carrying his tray to a table.

In a casual restaurant, an employee assists a
man using crutches, by carrying his tray to a table.

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