On October 2, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) released “Americans with Disabilities Act: Toolkit for Restaurant Operators,” an information-rich resource that helps restaurateurs comply with updated accessibility guidelines and welcome guests with disabilities to their restaurants.

“Restaurants invest millions of dollars every year to increase their accessibility to all guests,” says Jack Crawford, chairman of the NRA Board’s Jobs and Careers Committee and president & CEO of Ground Round IOC, Freeport, Maine. “They do so not just because it’s the law, but because it’s the right thing to do. We hope this toolkit makes it easier for NRA members to navigate the ADA’s complex requirements.”

The new federal accessibility standards – officially, the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design – represent the first major changes to the federal design standards since 1991. The 2010 Standards set ground rules for what makes a restaurant “accessible,” covering everything from restrooms to signage, elevators, ramps, and parking spaces.

The 2010 standards apply to new construction and alterations starting on or after March 15, 2012. Since Title III of the ADA also requires businesses to remove barriers to guests wherever it is readily achievable, businesses should use the new standards for guidance when they remove existing barriers to guests.

The 80-page toolkit includes a general overview of Title III of the ADA, and a checklist that restaurateurs can use at their operations to evaluate such features as dining areas, self-service counters, and children’s play areas.

The book also offers a chapter on what restaurateurs should do if they are sued under the ADA, and information on revised Title III regulations on “service animals” and the use of mobility devices.

The toolkit is available at Restaurant.org/ADA. The publication is available as a complimentary download for NRA members; non-members pay $49.95 for the PDF toolkit.

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