Disability compliance is one of those issues that if you are in compliance, it is no big deal. But, if you are not, it is a very big deal. It is a deal that can become quite costly, as well as being aggravating and negatively affecting your small business.
Why Hire a Professional Firm
Disability compliance is not optional. It is mandated by law, and has very specific guidelines. These guidelines can sometimes be hard to understand, and may even be hard to follow unless you know exactly what you are supposed to do.
There are three areas in which a firm specializing in disability compliance can be helpful to your business. These are:
- Policy planning
Consultations help you understand exactly what is expected of your business, and helps pinpoint areas in which you may need further development. The consulting firm has the time and expertise to keep abreast of the latest developments and can analyze your business to make sure you are following all guidelines and mandates.
These consulting firms can train you and your employees in how to be compliant with the letter of the law. They can help train employees in attitudes and ways to make the disabled person better able to perform their job. They can also train administration in how to insure disability compliance in their expectations. Often, just a minor change can make a workplace more friendly for the disabled person, enabling them to perform a job they might not otherwise be able to do.
Policy planning can be a headache, especially if you have other responsibilities that might interfere with what you are able to do. A consulting firm has the knowledge of what is required, and can dedicate themselves to writing policies for you that complies with them. This relieves you of a great responsibility. Though the ultimate responsibility is yours, you have a policy manual that you can start with and tweak to your specifications. That is so much easier than starting strictly from scratch.
Ways to Accommodate
There is a number of ways to make accommodations in order to ensure the disability compliance of your company. Some of these accommodations include:
- Doing something in a different way to make it easier for the disabled person to participate
- Making physical changes to make your workplace more accessible
- Making adjustments to where the work can be done to accommodate physical limitations
- Providing aids and services to enable fuller participation by the disabled person, including an assistant or job coach
- Providing equipment such as large screens or visual cues instead of auditory ones so that the disabled person can more fully participate
There are three areas of responsibility in making your business or workplace meet disability compliance regulations. These include making physical changes, changing expectations, and providing any assistive technology that is reasonable. These three areas usually cover almost any accommodation that a disabled person can reasonably expect.
Reasons for Outside Consultation
Because you are so close to the daily operations of your business or workplace, you might not be aware of areas where you are not in compliance until a disabled employee files a suit. Or, even if you are aware, it is hard to determine what is a reasonable expectation for accommodations and what is not. Too, it is hard sometimes to see areas where accommodations can be made. An outside consulting firm can come in and observe your business in operation. They will then write a report of deficits they see and ways in which those deficits can be reasonably compensated. Though these companies do charge a fee, it is much less than legal fees can be if you get sued or taken to court. They are thus cost-effective.
Melissa has worked closely with consulting firms and has also written about areas of disability compliance. She has written several articles in reference to this field, so is somewhat of an expert.