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10 Of The Most Common ADA Violations That Need To Stop

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The Americans with Disabilities Act may have been passed over 23 years ago, but apparently that still isn’t enough time for society to get their act together when it comes to following all aspects of the law. ADA violations happen every day all over the country with many businesses feeling the ultimate sting of not complying – being shut down.

But being shut down doesn’t have to be the end result.  The government gives plenty of time to businesses to do what is right, however there are still some businesses out there who refuse to comply no matter how much time is given. For them, and the oblivious businesses still in the Dark Ages, here are the 10 most common ADA violations (That need to stop).

1) No accessible entrance.

One of the most notorious ADA violations by far – not providing a ramp or some other kind of accessible entrance to their facility. Every private building serving the public no matter it’s age must be made accessible.  There is no “Grandfather Clause” exempting older buildings, despite what many people say. The ADA requires all private buildings serving the public to have an accessible entrance, but there are thousands of businesses across the country who refuse to comply. Take a spin through Manhattan and you’ll see exactly what I mean or in one of the millions of small towns across country.  Stores with stairs or even with a too-high lip at the entrance are sadly everywhere.

It’s really no wonder many people with disabilities have sued businesses for this particular violation, with many even keeping their lawyer on speed dial because they live in such a small town and want to remain independent.

2) Baby strollers in the wheelchair spot on city buses.

If you take public transportation, you’ve probably noticed the wheelchair spots in the front of the bus where there are no seats.  This vicinity is meant for wheelchair-users only, however many people toting around a baby in a stroller have been known to park their strollers in these spots, loving the easy access. Despite what many parents may believe, wheelchair-users aren’t required to give up their spots for strollers.

3) Bathrooms not accessible.

Another major ADA violation that can really put a wrench in someone’s plans is not providing a fully accessible bathroom.  Businesses are required to provide both an accessible way to enter their facility, as well as a bathroom with one stall a wheelchair-user can use.  This can be an expensive renovation, since many small details are required to make it accessible, but it must be done.

4) No van accessible parking spot.

Even the smallest business is required to provide at least one accessible van parking spot, yet this remains a common ADA violations and one that infuriates me personally. When you use a van with a ramp, it can be very easy to get blocked in by other people. The spots also need to be clearly marked, as well as the crosshatch for the ramp, and that means more signage other then paint on the ground (since snow ) can cover it up in a matter of minutes.

5) Cruise ship inaccessibility.

Starting in 2005, the ADA now applies to all cruise ships docking at U.S. ports, but many are slow to the take. This change in the law is a great thing for the millions of wheelchair-users who love going on cruises, since they’re a great style of trip for people with disabilities, but it will still take quite a while for all ships to comply.

From installing lower door thresholds, more accessible rooms to elevators that go to every floor of the ship, as well as automated pool lifts (love these), cruise ships are slowly becoming more accessible. Carnival however is one of the worst violators.

Related: 12 Things Every Business Can Do Right Now to Better Serve People with Disabilities

6) Fired/Not hired because of a disability.

Many people wrongly assume the ADA forces an employer to hire people with disabilities even if there aren’t qualified, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The ADA only requires a business interviewing perspective employees not to turn down someone because of a disability since providing reasonable accommodations is required by the ADA. There are some jobs of course where reasonable accommodations don’t apply, like a quadriplegic trying to be a construction worker, but in general this is against the law.

And the same goes in the face of being fired or let go.  The disability must not come into play for any reason, except work performance.

7) Business owners refusing service dogs.

In a recent blog post of ours, the story of a Iraq veteran with a service dog for PTSD definitely rustled a lot of feathers.  A restaurant owner didn’t want to serve the veteran because of his dog, making him leave, despite the fact that the veteran called police and showed the owner the man’s service dog papers. The ADA is very strict in this – any service animal is allowed to accompany its owner no matter what and even better, showing “certification papers” isn’t a requirement.

8) Gas station doesn’t assist with pumping gas.

While some states don’t let anyone pump gas, like in New Jersey and Oregon, the rest of the country can pump their own gas, however people disabilities can call into the station and request assistance.  Many gas stations however will claim they don’t have enough employees or are too busy to help. The ADA requires all stations to provide gasoline fueling assistance, if requested.

9) Cluttered and narrow store aisles.

Shopping (or trying to) at stores that don’t take into consideration wheelchair-users is a very common ADA violation and one that many storeowners ignore rampantly. The ADA requires that no aisle in a store be less than 36″ wide.

10) Too steep/no curbcuts.

An ADA violation you see time and time again are businesses without any curb cuts or even entire cities that don’t have them. Providing curb cuts on every block is required by the ADA, despite businesses and cities bemoaning the cost of installing them. Otherwise, they will install a mediocre curb-cut, but it’ll be too steep and dangerous to use.

ADA violations only happen because business owners don’t understand or respect how vital the law is to our independence. If all of them became disabled, just imagine how things would change. I could finally get into the 1930′s steakhouse by my mom’s like a “normal person” and not a sack of potatoes. Now that would be the day.

Have you ever sued a business because of ADA non-compliance?

More From This Author: 10 Things Every Person with a Disability Should Hear

See Also: 10 Things I Wish Were Different About the ADA

Related: 23 years later, Why is There Still Minimal ADA Compliance Across the U.S.?



About Tiffiny Carlson

Tiffiny Carlson is a writer and quadriplegic from Minneapolis. She has a C6 spinal cord injury from a diving accident when she was 14 years old. Writing and breaking stereotypes is her passion. She's been the SCI Life columnist for New Mobility magazine since 2003 and is the founder of the longtime disability site, Her work has also been featured in Penthouse, Playgirl and And when she's not writing, Tiffiny loves to cook and practice adaptive yoga.

26 Responses

  1. avatar Lisa Lally says:

    LOVED this article Tiffiny and will be sharing it various times on my fb pages!!!

    Bless you!! ♥♥

    P.S. My youngest son Jude Lally is also in a wheelchair suffering from Freidrich’s Ataxia.

  2. avatar Teresa Feltner says:

    Hello, I enjoyed your article. I wish I knew how to find a lawyer to sue for some of the violations in my town. They spent millions of dollars to redo Main Street. New side walks and lights etc. Some of the ramps are so steep I can barely push my son up. I know someone who is having to manually move their own chair couldn’t possibly go up some of those ramps. Then some of the new beautiful lamp posts are positioned right at the top of the ramps. I cant find a wheelchair van accessible parking space in the whole down town.
    Many of the stores I can not get my son through because the clothing racks are so close together and one hardware store is absolutely inexcessible the isles are so close together with stuff even sitting in the floor. The Dollar General Stores put sale items in the hashmarked space for the wheelchair van unloading zone.

  3. You might try contacting the City Manager, but discuss the issues with the city attorney first. The cost of an attorney is astronomical, and having been sued in 1996 for “theft of a parking space” (Quigley vs. Fleming) X3 you may not want the stress. In our state we have a “Center for Disability Law” which if they like your “cause” then they will have a lawyer represent you for free. Good luck and pick your battles wisely is all I can say. Being a Secret Shopper and letting the Manager know of the ADA violations is easier.

  4. avatar Mr. Benda says:

    That isn’t the half of it. When you work in a Hire at will state you might as well think of it as a fire at will state because not only do they not hire you, if they find out you have a disability your days are numbered.

    • avatar Shannon L. Snyder says:

      I have just experienced this horrible disability discrimination. I completely agree, it is an at will to be fired law that is at the advantage of the employer not the employee. It should be scrutinized by the disability advocates and more protection for a disabled worker who wants to be successful!

      • avatar Shannon L. Snyder says:

        I disagree with this statement:
        And the same goes in the face of being fired or let go. The disability must not come into play for any reason, except work performance.

        If your work performance is being scrutinized due to your disability, their should be a process that includes a third party to look at the job, responsibilities and how the disabled individual can overcome the work performance issues with accommodations. Instead, you have to wait until you are fired and go through a six month journey after the fact with lawyers and the EEOC.

  5. [...] Mobility Resource lists 10 of the most common ADA violations that need to stop. (h/t to Accessibility 4 All.) Spread the Word:Like this:Like [...]

  6. avatar Mike Charron says:

    While I agree with 90% of your listings of the 10 most common ADA violations, I must say that most of the people that I know will are people with disabilities are unable to afford luxuries such as cruises.
    It is my opinion that the more egregious violation exists in the field of the provision of medical care and the lack of accessibility of both medical equipment and perhaps more so communication particularly for people who are deaf or hearing-impaired.
    Otherwise I believe done a great job with you listing!

  7. avatar Mike Charron says:

    While I agree with 90% of your listings of the 10 most common ADA violations, I must say that most of the people that I know are people with disabilities are unable to afford luxuries such as cruises.
    It is my opinion that the more egregious violation exists in the field of the provision of medical care and the lack of accessibility of both medical equipment and perhaps more so communication, particularly for people who are deaf or hearing-impaired.
    Otherwise I believe done a great job with you listing!

  8. avatar Morgan says:

    Congrads on the Huffington Post Article.
    I agree that buildings should be accessible. But, Buildings that serve the public do not have to have an accessible entrance if it serves an undo hardship on them. The ADA is not there to put small businesses out of business.

  9. avatar Yvonne says:

    I was wondering if I could post this on my website since I think everyone should see it.
    Thank you

  10. [...] 10 Of The Most Common ADA Violations That Need To Stop [...]

  11. [...] 10 Of The Most Common ADA Violations That Need To Stop [...]

  12. avatar Stacy Hudgens says:

    Great article, but I have a different view of #2 (baby strollers and packages in wheelchair procurement areas), what I run into is that able-bodied people won’t relinquish their seats in the wheelchair procurement areas. That people will put their large packages or baby strollers in those areas, and they won’t move when a person with a disability boards the bus!

    There are signs around those wheelchair areas that state that a person must leave those seats if an elderly or disabled person boards, but I guess the people decide that those signs don’t apply to them–and refuse to move when directly asked to move.

    Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), is now bringing suit against the Denver area Regional Transportation District (Public Transportation), to enforce the regulations:

    Now, what I really found interesting was that at the time the article was written in the Denver Post, comments were available, there were about 12 or so when I read the article. About 25% were people bitching about “special rights,” and people with disabilities having “special privileges” and so on and so forth. I am so surprised that mentality is still raising it’s ugly head in this day and time.

    Come on folks, give the disability and elderly community a break–give them your seat.

  13. [...] residences are almost never accessible to a wheelchair. There are always a few steps up the front walk to the door or sometimes there is just one step [...]

  14. avatar Anne says:

    One of my biggest pet peeves is often dealing with handicapped parking spaces. We have a full size conversion van with a lift for my son. Most of the time when we are out and its not raining we will park away from the crowd and just take up two spots in order to have room to put the lift down and unload. Other times when this is not an option I really get frustrated when a car parks in a van space. They will have the handicapped plate/placard. Several times we have found a smart car parked in the van space. At times my husband and I are tempted to just push it out of the way.

    • avatar Cassie C says:

      As a disabled person with a small car, sometimes that van space is the only handicap spot left when I get here. If that’s the case, am I supposed to forgo running my errands, eating out, buying my groceries, etc, on the off chance that someone with a van will show up while I’m present? Parking far out isn’t an option for me- I walk with forearm crutches and can’t manage un-level ground. Most of the region here has very rolling parking lots.

      If there’s another spot there I can manage to walk in from, I’ll use it instead. But I’m sorry, I’m not going to not grocery shop on the off chance someone with an accessible van will arrive while I’m picking up a few things. I am disabled, I have a legal right to park there if there are no other spots available.

  15. [...] 10 Of The Most Common ADA Violations That Need To Stop [...]

  16. avatar Ann says:

    Good article that allows people without disabilities to relate (though under “Fired/Not Hired” it’s “they and “prospective.”) Thank you.

  17. avatar Larry Wallace says:

    Our local store’s aisles are so cluttered that I can’t trans in my power chair. Not the employees’ fault. Management won’t hire enough people to put up stock andremove empties. Disgraceful, people without handicaps have trouble navigating the aisles. Monette AR 72447

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