The Connecticut Accessibility Code lays out specific ways to make your business accessible. Whenever a business makes structural improvements during construction or renovation, all improvements must meet the accessibility standards listed in the above code. You also may be required to update some or all of the building’s main entrance or exit, the primary route to the renovated area, and any bathrooms, drinking fountains, or signs serving the area of remodeling accessible.
Disability Access & the State Building Code:
If your business is only doing renovations, building inspectors will not conduct a full review of your business location for accessibility deficiencies; they will only check to see if the renovations covered by your building permit meet the level of accessibility listed in the Connecticut Building Code. However, even though the Connecticut Accessibility Code requires that businesses make accessibility improvements only when they are doing other construction or renovation, your entire business location must still comply with the ADA barrier removal requirements.
The Federal and State government recognize that economic conditions vary. You may not need to meet these ADA requirements if the necessary improvements are not “readily achievable.” Readily achievable is defined as being easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. If you feel that you qualify for this exemption, you must be able to legally prove that any requirement not met was not readily achievable under your current circumstances. If you are exempted from meeting the barrier removal standards, you must still make a conscious effort to serving potential customers with physical disabilities. For example, if your restaurant does not provide a wheelchair entrance, and you cannot afford to put one in, you would have to offer a take out/delivery service until you have the resources needed to install one. Once economic conditions improve, you will be expected to complete the needed improvements.
NOTE: It can be very difficult for a business to claim either of these exemptions, and you should consult with an attorney before relying upon either of them to protect you from a lawsuit. You have an ongoing obligation to make your business accessible. Even if changes are not readily achievable now, they may be in the future.
Evaluating your Location for Compliance:
NOTE: Landlords are required to make public restrooms and ground-floor entrances/exits accessible, or give you notice if space may not be ADA compliant.
Local building inspectors will inform you if your building (or renovated area of your building) is not meeting Federal or State standards.
Consult with an attorney to determine the best strategy to protect you and your business in the event of an ADA lawsuit. Although working with an attorney can be expensive, some low-cost legal services are available to small businesses. ADA lawsuits commonly cost small businesses tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and settlements – invest in your business by investing in access.
View the following links and resources for more information on ADA Compliance.