Physical accessibility ensures equal access in the workplace.
Although the benefits of accessibility extend beyond compliance, it is important for employers to understand what is required by laws.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is an employer’s obligation to “provide access for an individual applicant to participate in the job application process, and for an individual employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of his/her job, including access to a building, to the work site, to needed equipment, and to all facilities used by employees.”
In addition to the building and work site, areas in which accessibility must be provided may include, but are not limited to:
- Parking lots (handicapped parking spaces)
- Fire alarms/emergency exits
- Conference rooms and shared workspace
- Desks and personal workspace
- Hallways and stairwells
EARN offers three checklists to help employers ensure career fairs and hiring events, meetings and events (PDF) and trainings (PDF) are accessible. The U.S. Access Board is an important source of information on the ADA's standards for the physical environment, including workplaces. The ADA National Network and its 10 regional ADA Centers also offer guidance and one-on-one assistance to help employers ensure physical spaces are accessible. The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center’s Guide to Accessible Meetings, Events and Conferences provides tips that can assist with factors such as site selection, audio-visual materials and catering.
Businesses that make modifications to improve workplace accessibility may be eligible for tax credits or deductions to help offset costs incurred. For more information read the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Tax Benefits for Businesses Who Have Employees with Disabilities.