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Fulfilling the Spirit of the ADA: Resources for Small Businesses

Earlier this month, the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the fundamental premise of which was to create a better, more inclusive society for not just African Americans, but all Americans.  And this week marks the anniversary of the passage of another piece of landmark legislation enlarging America's ideal of equality — the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Authorized on July 26, 1990, the ADA is actually closely modeled on the Civil Rights Act.  And, similarly, businesses of all sizes have responsibilities under it.  A number of resources are available to help businesses understand these responsibilities — and in so doing, potentially expand both their talent pool and customer base to include people with disabilities. 

The Office of Disability Employment Policy's Job Accommodation Network (JAN) maintains an online ADA Library that includes, among other resources, an Employers' Practical Guide to Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA.  It also provides live, one-on-one assistance to businesses of all sizes over the phone or online at (800) 526-7234 (Voice) or (877)781-9403 (TTY) or AskJAN.org.  Furthermore, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which has enforcement responsibilities under the ADA, offers specific guidance for small businesses in The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Primer for Small Businesses. For individualized guidance, small businesses can also call upon EEOC's Small Business Liaisons.

Clearly, fostering a workplace culture welcoming of all qualified individuals — whether as employees or customers — makes good business sense.  By accessing resources available to help them fulfill the spirit of the ADA, businesses both large and small can reap these benefits, this month and every month.

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