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Government Requirements
ADA Americans with Disabilities Act Go to topics
The Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA) requires virtually all businesses to make their facilities accessible to disabled customers and employees and requires businesses with 15 or more employees to accommodate disabled job candidates in hiring, firing and benefits.

ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business
2 parts 
  1. Accessible Accommodations

    Anyone serving the public must actively remove any physical barriers so that all people, regardless of disability, have equal access to the business' goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations.

    For a complete description of these requirements and specifications, contact the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.

  2. Access to Employment

    A disabled candidate is considered qualified to be hired or promoted if (s)he can carry out the "essential functions" of the job with or without "reasonable accommodation". Employers may have to offer training or aids such as readers or interpreters if they enhance employment opportunities and don't cause "undue hardship" to the company. There are tax credits and tax deductions available to offset the costs of complying with this Act (see below).

Things to watch  Employers may not
  • Advertise jobs in ways that discourage disabled applicants;
  • Reject applications from disabled candidates;
  • Ask about handicaps unless the questions relate directly to the job.
This Act does not require employers to hire disabled workers if the worker cannot perform the essential functions of a job or if another applicant is more qualified for the job.

If a candidate would qualify, but the accommodation costs would cause "undue hardship", we suggest that you contact the California Department of Rehabilitation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or other private or public agencies to determine if you can obtain financial assistance before disqualifying the candidate.

Tax credit available  If your business' gross receipts are less than $1 million or you have fewer than 30 full-time employees, you are eligible for a tax credit to help pay the costs to comply with the ADA. You must pay the first $250 of any accommodation cost. You can get a 50% tax credit for costs between $250 and $5,000. If you spend over $5,000, you can declare up to $15,000 as a business tax deductions. Credits are deducted directly from your tax bill, whereas tax deductions are lumped in with your other business expenses and only lower your tax bill by your business' tax rate (typically 15% to 31% times the tax deduction).

If your business' gross receipts are more than $1 million, you will still be eligible for a maximum $15,000 tax deduction.

Expenditures that qualify for these tax breaks include:

  • Removal of architectural, communication, transportation or other physical barriers
  • The purchase or modification of needed equipment, and
  • Costs of technical assistance for employers and employees to comply with the Act.
For more information, click here.
Other information   Other sources of information include: