Broader Wheelchair Access Rules Proposed
The Justice Department is mulling changes to the Americans With Disabilities Act that, as written, would affect every company in America. The Access Board, a federal agency that sets office architectural standards, recently proposed requiring that businesses make office interiors accessible to wheelchairs. For a decade, companies have had to make entryways accessible. The Justice Department will finalize the rules early next year.
Dave Yanchulis, an expert on accessibility who works for the Access Board, promises that his agency "isn't going to make a blanket ruling that affects all businesses."
Still, Thomas M. Sullivan at the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy notes that the current language covers "all businesses." If enacted as is, Sullivan fears that the proposal could prove to be a huge burden on small companies. He would like to see the board create a "safe harbor" exemption for businesses that have already complied with the ADA. "The goal should be to get the greatest amount of benefit for disabled Americans," he says, "with the least amount of harm to small businesses."