Readily Achievable Barrier Removal
The ADA requires that small businesses remove architectural barriers in existing facilities when it is “readily achievable” to do so. Readily achievable means “easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense.” This requirement is based on the size and resources of a business. Therefore, businesses with more resources are expected to remove more barriers than businesses with fewer resources.
Readily achievable barrier removal may include providing an accessible route from a parking lot to the business’ entrance, installing an entrance ramp, widening a doorway, installing accessible door hardware, repositioning shelves, or moving tables, chairs, display racks, vending machines, or other furniture. When removing barriers, businesses are required to comply with the Standards to the extent possible.
Priorities for Barrier Removal
- Providing access to your business from public sidewalks, parking areas, and public transportation;
- Providing access to the goods and services your business offers;
- Providing access to public restrooms; and
- Removing barriers to other amenities offered to the public, such as drinking fountains.
Create a Readily Achievable Barrier Removal Plan
- Identify barriers – start with the MSCOD Building Access Survey which can be downloaded at www.disability.state.mn.us – click accessibility and building access.
- Prioritize barriers – follow the advice above and for other issues contact the local Center for Independent Living or other disability organization and talk about how the barriers should be prioritized.
- Establish a reasonable timeline based on the number of barriers that need to be addressed and your financial resources. Remember though, this obligation has existed for 25 years and if you have failed to remove barriers for a number of years, you need to make up lost time. Try to double your efforts when establishing this timeline. Remove as many barriers as possible, as quickly as possible. For instance, this year you could install the needed number of disability parking spaces with the required access aisles, ramp the steps at the entrance and possibly install a power door opener if needed. Next year, you could improve access to your goods and services. If you own a restaurant you could improve access to and throughout your dining area, if you own retail space, you could improve access to the merchandise area. The next year of the plan could be dedicated to improving restroom access. You could enlarge a stall, install an accessible height toilet and grab-bars, install an accessible sink, mirror and paper towels, etc.
- Secure cost estimates or at least get an idea of what the modification might cost, keep a record of the estimates, timeline and resources – many times the cost is less than expected, other times it’s more.
- Execute the PLAN!
- Keep records on what barriers you have removed and the cost.
Tax Credit and Deduction
- To assist small businesses to comply with the ADA, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code includes a Disabled Access Credit (Section 44) for businesses with 30 or fewer full-time employees or with total revenues of $1 million or less in the previous tax year. Eligible expenses may include the cost of undertaking barrier removal and alterations to improve accessibility, providing sign-language interpreters, or making material available in accessible formats such as Braille, audiotape, or large print.
- Section 190 of the IRS Code provides a tax deduction for businesses of all sizes for costs incurred in removing architectural barriers in existing facilities or alterations. The maximum deduction is $15,000 per year.
This information was provided by the Minnesota State Council on Disability. For more information on accessibility visit www.disability.state.mn.us