Disability Access Regulations

All businesses in California must comply with both federal and state protections for customers and employees with disabilities. Use these resources to get up-to-speed on your regulatory responsibilities.

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Federal Rules
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State Rules

Federal Regulations and Resources

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a Federal civil rights law designed to ensure equal access, full inclusion and participation for people with disabilities or impairments.

ADA regulations cover:

  • employment (Title I)
  • state and local government activities and public transportation (Title II)
  • public (including private and non-profit business) accommodations (Title III)
  • and telecommunication relay services (Title IV)

Your business must be ADA compliant.

The ADA Standards for Accessible Design dictate requirements for newly designed and constructed or altered government facilities (state or local), public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.

Federal Resources for ADA Compliance

Small businesses that remove access barriers from their facilities, provide accessible services, or improve accessibility for customers with disabilities may receive tax deductions or credits. Tax incentives may be used every year if the business incurs annual expenses to bring itself in compliance with the ADA. Tax incentives may not be applied to the cost of new construction and barrier removal must comply with ADA standards.

State Regulations and Resources

California businesses should be familiar with these state laws, regulations, and programs:

State Resources for ADA Compliance

The California Department of General Services (DGS) also provides information, resources, and trainings to help businesses become and stay compliant.

The California State Treasurer offers a program to assist small businesses with financing the costs to alter or retrofit existing small business facilities to comply with the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

You can also hire a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) through the Division of the State Architect (DSA) to inspect buildings and sites for compliance with applicable state and federal construction-related accessibility standards.

Having a business/property reviewed by a CASp shows that business owners care about ensuring equal access for all customers. A CASp will know which standards apply to a property based on the age of the facility and its history of improvements. While a licensed design professional, such as an architect or engineer, can provide an access compliance evaluation of a facility, only a CASp can provide services that offer “qualified defendant” status in a construction-related accessibility lawsuit. The good-faith effort of hiring a CASp may lessen a business or property owner’s liability and provide certain legal benefits if an accessibility claim is filed against them. You may also consult with a CASp by contacting your local city or county building department.

California Office of the Small Business Advocate
1325 J Street, Suite 1800
Sacramento, CA 95814
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