Access Equals Opportunity

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has changed the way Americans do business. Enacted in 1990, the ADA calls for businesses to make their facilities, goods, and services accessible to all, including people with disabilities. The ADA is good business because access for everyone is the key to attracting new customers and retaining those you now serve.

In the last census, 56 million Americans identified themselves as people with disabilities. These Guides will help you to attract that new market and to comply cheaply and easily with requirements of the public accommodations section of the Act. A barrier, whether physical or procedural, inhibits customers. Our "Access Equals Opportunity" series offers businesses suggestions for "readily achievable" – cheap and easy – ways to remove these barriers on an industry-specific basis.

These Guides were produced by a cooperative effort between business and disability groups. They offer practical answers to frequently asked questions about a wide variety of business industries. The Better Business Bureau system, in the spirit of voluntary compliance and the promotion of ethical business practices, sponsored information gathering meetings to discuss the issues that follow.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Foundation and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) have joined together in a national partnership for compliance. The U.S. Department of Justice provided the initial funding and technical support for this series of nine guides.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus’ members are 300 national corporations and the 130 Better Business Bureaus and branches around the country whose members are 380,000 small and mid-sized businesses. The Council’s Foundation is an education and research organization.

DREDF is a national law and policy center working to advance the civil and human rights of people with disabilities through legal advocacy, training and education, and public policy and legislative development. It is managed and directed by people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities.

The Foundation and DREDF are working together to promote voluntary compliance with the Act. While businesses that fail to comply are subject to administrative complaints, lawsuits, and fines, those who read this Guide will learn how to comply effectively and how to enlarge their customer base.

We thank all who helped produce this Guide: various Better Business Bureaus; the participating local business and disability leaders; the staff and consultants of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Foundation, and DREDF; and the staff of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

(First published July, 1995; minor revisions, September, 2006)