Federal and State law prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a Federal civil rights law designed to ensure equal access, full inclusion and participation for people with
disabilities or impairments.
The ADA prohibits discrimination based on a person's disability in employment, State and local government programs, private and non-profit businesses (referred to as public accommodations), commercial facilities, transportation, and
telecommunications. Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such
impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment.
Federal ADA Regulations Requirements
All new construction, alterations, and additions for public accommodations must comply with the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards.
Public accommodations built before January 26, 1992 are required to remove architectural barriers that are readily achievable. Facilities built after that date are required to be built in compliance with the ADA Accessibility
Guidelines. In addition, a public accommodation has a continuing obligation to maintain accessible features to make sure a business is accessible.
The California Building Code requires that business owners make accessibility improvements whenever they are doing construction or renovation, typically under a building permit. If you renovate your building, then all of your
new construction (the area of remodel) must meet the accessibility standards.
Resources for ADA Compliance & Small Businesses
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), offers many resources, including an ADA Primer for Small Businesses; answers to commonly asked
questions about service animals in places of business; and information on tax credits and deductions to help
offset costs associated with new construction or alterations to existing facilities.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and DOJ’s ADA Guide for Small Business provides information on architectural barriers and how to remove them.
You may also hire a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) to inspect your facility and provide you with a report on any areas that are not in compliance. The findings of a CASp are confidential and a CASp inspection provides you with
legal benefits. To find a CASp or find out more about the CASp Program, visit the Division of the State Architect’s CASp webpage.