It is great to be part of a society that is consumer driven. We are able to obtain goods and services we might not otherwise have access to. Many of us may not be able to fix our own plumbing or write a legal document, but we can certainly seek out those services through private businesses. The downfall is that some businesses do not see the value of providing goods and services to the public as a whole. Luckily, it is easy for businesses to see the value of people with and without disabilities spending the same dollar.
Below are advocacy tips, techniques and language you can use to obtain equal access to private businesses under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title III. Let them know, "It only makes good business sense!"
Create an overall advocacy business plan
Know exactly what you need as you approach businesses about accessibility. Have a map about the issues and possible solutions so that the request can be easily understood and implemented. Here are two tips to get you started on the plan:
- Set the stage by letting the business know the buying power of customers with disabilities. It's a strong opening because you are getting right to the bottom line of what businesses want to hear. You can also win them over with this document from US Department of Justice, titled "Expanding Your Market: Customers with Disabilities Mean Business."
- Let them know how simple it is to implement accessibility. Here are the three most important ADA business priorities. Keep in mind an ITY can assist in priority one and two depending on the nature of the business/service.
- Priority one, being able to get to the door and through it;
- Priority two, being able to access the goods and services of the establishment, and;
- Priority three, if there are public bathrooms, then providing one that is accessible.
When advocating for an ITY, discuss with the business their effective communication plan. Businesses should have one especially if they have contact with public. If the public cannot get access to goods and services simply because of a communication barrier, then a public has a right to challenge them. Again, once you set the stage, let them know how simple it is to create an accessibility plan, and finally give them the forms and materials to help them follow through.
Below are documents that you should make readily available for businesses that you are speaking to:
- US Department of Justice, Expanding Your Market: Customers with Disabilities Mean Business
- US Department of Justice, ADA Guide for Small Business
- US Department of Justice, Tax Incentives for Small Businesses
- US Department of Labor, Communicating with and about people with disabilities
Follow up, follow up, follow up
Now that you have the information and forms in the business' hands, follow up with them about implementing their plan. If they need assistance, offer your services. Here are three simple steps to make sure that the ITY, is implemented appropriately:
- If they have not contacted Interpretype, offer to do it for them. They may truly be busy with other business matters so let them know on their behalf, you're more than willing to make the initial contact and have one of the ITY reps get in touch with them directly.
- Once the machine arrives, offer to help them place their ITY in an accessible area. The federal guideline for service counters is 36" in height. Perhaps, they already have an accessible counter, but if they don't, work with them to create one.
- Finally, the machine has arrived and is placed in an accessible location. Now is the time to test it before you open it up to the public. You can offer your services with user groups to make sure that the business has a good sense of how to navigate the machine. After the test drive is done, it's time to hit the highway!