ADA compliance isn’t just good practice. It’s the law.
When it comes to making sure your employees and the customers you serve have access to everything they need, compliance with ADA isn’t just good practice – it’s the law. Here’s what you need to know about rolling out this type of training to your managers and employees.
What is ADA training?
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) specifically prohibits discrimination against anyone with disabilities in public places (or private places when the public has access). Passed in 1990, this law offers protections to ensure that everyone, regardless of their physical or mental abilities, has access to:
- Public accommodations
- State and local government services
Each section (or title) of the Act covers each area of the above.
Amendments were made to the Act in 2009 that significantly changed what is considered a protected disability under the ADA. Additionally, new changes and a deeper explanation of accessible design requirements were put into place in 2010.
“ADA training makes sure that everyone understands their rights.”
As laws are subject to change and modification, ADA training for managers and employees makes sure that everyone understands their rights. It also makes sure your team maintains and promotes equal access to goods, services, trainings, and programs for everyone, from employees to vendors and to the public (where applicable).
Topics to cover in ADA training for employees
All public and governmental entities are bound by the Americans With Disabilities Act, as are private employers with 15 or more employees. Your training courses need to cover a variety of topics to ensure that everyone has the information they need to help your business thrive.
To start, basic ADA training for employees should be an integrated part of all of your company trainings. Add information for disability awareness training that includes things like:
- Laws surrounding service animals
- Physical accessibility requirements
- An employee’s responsibility to report on potential accessibility issues
Disability awareness training for all employees promotes a company culture that is inclusive.
Training for better understanding of disabilities also helps employees better serve the public. This makes your business welcoming, warm, and easy to navigate for anyone who walks through your doors. Whether a customer comes in with a service animal or a vendor has trouble navigating your storeroom, ADA training can empower your employees to accommodate your site’s visitors.
ADA training for managers: Topics to cover
ADA training for managers goes more in-depth, as managers are expected to be the experts on making sure your company complies with ADA requirements. In 2016, the Institute for Human Centered Design created an extensive checklist for managers to evaluate their current level of ADA compliance for facilities and to make changes.
This checklist is a good place to start, but there are other ADA training topics that need to be covered in your comprehensive program, including:
- Understanding what disabilities are
- How to proactively evaluate existing facilities
- Rules and laws about hiring and firing of employees
- Requirements surrounding health plans and medical reporting
- Rules for documentation and reporting
- Procedures for handling and reporting complaints
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
1. Understanding what disabilities are
Although this topic falls under the general umbrella of good management training, managing employees and customers with disabilities also involves training that takes an empathetic approach.
It’s important for managers to understand the unique challenges that disabled employees (and customers) face. It’s also crucial that they understand that many disabilities are invisible. They should have a clear understanding of your company’s expectations when it comes to disability awareness and accommodations.
2. Proactive evaluation of existing facilities
Managers and employers need to examine their current facilities to make sure they’re ADA compliant. Check for missing ramps, narrow doorways, or no accessible restrooms to start. A comprehensive ADA training for managers will also include a list of what needs to be accessible and ways they can address any discrepancies with your company leadership.
The ADA states that an employer must make accommodations that are reasonable (unless they would cause an undue hardship). If there is disagreement on what constitutes hardship or reasonable accommodations, there should be a clear procedure to address the issue.
Your ADA training should encourage clear lines of communication between managers and your HR department.
3. Rules and laws surrounding hiring and firing of employees
All employees (or potential new hires) are protected against discrimination, and those with disabilities are no different. Your ADA training for employers should include a discussion on how to prevent discrimination in hiring and firing based on disabilities.
4. Requirements surrounding health plans and medical reporting
Employers need to know the requirements surrounding health insurance plans that provide appropriate support to employees with disabilities. There are also legal limits to the amount and type of information that employees must provide to substantiate their disability (also relevant for invisible disabilities).
5. Rules for documentation and reporting
Knowing how to document discussions of potentially sensitive topics and doing so in a way that is ADA compliant can be challenging.
Sometimes referred to as an “interactive process conversation,” many of the discussions surrounding what is too much accommodation, what is not enough, and what needs to improve can be the basis for many complaints if not properly documented and handled. Make sure your managers know how to handle these conversations, with role-playing activities or scenarios.
6. Procedures for handling and reporting complaints
Especially if your company is just beginning to evaluate their ADA compliance, it’s crucial to develop procedures for handling complaints that may arise.
These could be anything from harassment between employees, customer complaints, or lack of access. Make a standard reporting procedure that both managers and employees can use to communicate any issues.
Start with accessible training
There’s one more crucial task to consider when you’re designing your ADA training.
Those who design, implement, or otherwise deliver your training must do so in a way that is accessible per the ADA’s rules. You cannot provide ADA training for employees without following the guidelines for accessibility we discussed in an earlier post.
Ultimately, ADA training helps your employees and managers understand their rights, roles, and responsibility in the workplace. Overall, this type of training creates a happier, more inclusive, and more productive workplace. It gives qualified employees the tools they need to perform well and makes sure the public and the clients they serve are similarly able to access all of the products, services, and facilities your business offers.
At EdgePoint Learning, we have experience designing ADA training across a variety of industries. If you need help getting started or have questions regarding ADA compliant disability awareness training, we can help. Get in touch today.