When it comes to building out your store, it’s important to keep in mind all of the adjustments and accommodations you must make to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which guarantees accessibility for over 50 million Americans living with disabilities. Small businesses have an obligation to their patrons to make their stores ADA accessible.
Making Your Store ADA Accessible
If your business employs a full public parking lot, there must be one accessible or handicap spot for every fifty standard spaces.
- For every six accessible spaces, there must be one van-accessible spot.
- The regular accessible spots should be eight feet across.
- The width for the van-accessible spaces must be eleven feet, with five feet wide access aisles the full length of the car on either side.
Furthermore, every accessible space must be located near the shortest possible access route to the entrance of the building or store. Don’t forget that every accessible space must have the international symbol of accessibility on its sign. However, parking lots with less than four of these spots do not need sign designation.
Entrances and Store Fronts
There should always be a clear route to your store’s entrance in the case of bad weather or other obstacles. That means clearing away snow in the winter and removing carts after shoppers abandon them.
One of the most important ways to comply with the ADA is by providing ramps with railing to accommodate those in wheelchairs. Your landing, entrance and door must also be wide enough to fit a wheelchair.
If you have several entrances, one accessible will suffice, but provide signage telling those with disabilities where they can find an accessible entrance.
Navigating the Store
The most fundamental element to ensuring that your store is ADA accessible is providing easy to navigate routes for exploring your interior.
- The minimum width of aisles is three feet to comply with ADA regulations.
- There must also be enough turning space at the end of each aisle so a wheelchair has room to maneuver and turn.
You should also routinely examine your space and clear all aisles or walkways of debris. This includes boxes, merchandise, displays or anything else that might obstruct the path. All hanging or mounted displays must be high enough to avoid customers that are blind or have poor vision.
Other Elements of Your Store
If you’re looking to make your store entirely ADA accessible, keep these things in mind:
- Restrooms must have a handicap-accessible stall or urinal.
- Fitting rooms must be large enough for a wheelchair to move around easily.
- Elevators must be big enough to fit a wheelchair.
By keeping all of these factors in mind, you are able to show the millions of disabled Americans out there that your store is a welcoming place for them to shop.