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ADA and small businesses

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1992 in what constituted a major legislative change for the benefit of people with disabilities.

The legislation is divided into three sections: Title I, which deals with non-discriminatory employment rules in both the private sector and government agencies; Title II, which deals with non-discriminatory rules applied to state and local government services and programs; and Title III, which deals with rules applied to the private sector and non-profit organizations.

Title I and Title III require private businesses to employ non-discriminatory rules, including the remediation of services, whether for employees so they can undertake positions just like anyone else, or for customers who need equal access to goods and services.

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Does the ADA apply to my small business?

All small businesses, regardless of size, must comply with Title III of the ADA. Although Title I exempts businesses with less than 15 employees from compliance, this is irrelevant to Title III.
According to Title III, all businesses must remediate their facilities so that individuals with impairments can access their accommodations just like everyone else.

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What about my small-sized website?

In a letter sent to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2018, Sen. Chuck Grassley requested the Department of Justice (DOJ) to clarify whether the ADA applies to websites considering the steep rise in ADA-related lawsuits over website noncompliance.

Replying on September 25, 2018, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd confirmed that the ADA applies to websites of public accommodations. “[The DOJ’s] interpretation is consistent with the ADA’s Title III requirement that the goods, services, privileges, or activities provided by places of public accommodation be equally accessible to people with disabilities,” he stipulated.

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Small businesses that provide public accommodations must make their websites accessible under Title III of the ADA, regardless of the number of employees.

Under Title I, small businesses with 15 or more employees must also remediate their recruitment procedures and working methods for existing employees with disabilities so their jobs are accessible. This should be achieved with reasonable remediation efforts in line with the company’s available resources.

For more ADA and web accessibility-related information, visit our page on ADA Compliance.

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