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Red Wing and Minnesota businesses facing ADA complaints

A recent surge in Americans with Disabilities Act complaints has pushed employers to search for solutions to their current barriers. The legal notices accuse business owners of a variety of issues with the main one being poor parking for handicap accessibility. A few others include no access to public restrooms or poor handicap access to building.

Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a seminar Wednesday, Sept. 13, to discuss the current ADA compliance issues and steps to help work on a solution. The ADA, an unfunded mandate, was passed by Congress in 1990. But over the past three years, compliance issues have been under the spotlight, not only in Red Wing but across the region.

Businesses in Red Wing, such as Dominos and Bierstube, sent representatives to the meeting to learn about making their establishments more handicap accessible. Those facing the sense of urgency to remove barriers at their business typically have 60 days to fix an issue before a lawsuit can be issued.

"Even if a public accommodation can demonstrate that providing access is not readily achievable, it must still make its goods and services available through alternative methods," said David Fenley, ADA access coordinator with Minnesota State Council on Disability.

When it comes to removing barriers, Fenley mentioned three alternatives for businesses who are unable to provide access.

• Providing curb service or home delivery

• Retrieving merchandise from inaccessible shelves or racks

• Relocating activities to accessible location

A public accommodation is considered a facility whose operations affect commerce and fall within a list of 12 categories, including; a place of lodging, establishment serving food or drink, places of exhibition or entertainment, places of public gathering, sales or rental, service establishments, public transportation terminals, depots or stations, places of public display or collection, places of recreation, places of education, social service center establishments, places of exercise or recreation.

When it comes to working on barriers, Fenley says, the degree of access is going to depend on the resources of the entity. A businesses with more resources is expected to remove more barriers than one who has fewer resources. Using the state building code as a standard guideline is the first step.

"This law has been in place for a quarter-century plus two years, this is about making sure people with disabilities have their rights protected," Fenley said. "It's also about businesses knowing what their rights are at the same time and exercising those rights by removing barriers and pushing back on the lawyers that aren't doing this for the right reasons."

For more information on Fenley's presentation if you missed it, visit www.disability.state.mn.us/accessibility/protect-your-business-by-removi... to view the slideshow.

Kit Murray

Kit Murray joined Red Wing Republican Eagle in Aug. 2016, covering government, transportation and public safety. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in photojournalism and philosophy. 

(651) 301-7874
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