Archive for May, 2015

Get Ready Chicago…Here We Come!

Chicago Blog2

East Coast Chair & Barstool is heading to Chicago! Also called “the windy city”, Chicago is known for its famous Navy Pier; splendid architecture; and food like deep dish pizza, Italian beef, and hot dogs.  This great city is again hosting the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Trade Show from May 16th through May 19th at McCormick Place.

If you haven’t heard about this spectacular event, the NRA Trade show is one of the biggest shows that restaurant and hospitality owners can attend.  Known as the international foodservice marketplace, this show will have the latest and greatest products and trends in the industry, as well as provide every attendee an opportunity to develop their own business to keep their customers happy while still making a profit.  Looking for information on food & nutrition, operations, franchise, or sales and marketing?  How about sustainability, technology or workforce engagement?  The NRA show will have all that through various educational sessions where you can learn from the best in the business.  Plus, thousands of exhibitors line the halls with new products, technologies, services, and foods that any restaurant owner would want to check out.  As an added bonus, many celebrity chefs will be in attendance on the show floor holding demonstrations as well as providing information that you’ll want to know in educational sessions.  Chefs including Robert Irvine, Jeff Mauro, Geoffrey Zakarian, Fabio Viviani, Anne Burrell, and Rick Bayless will all be in attendance.  It will surely be a busy couple of days but with so many great resources in one place, how can you miss it?

All of us at East Coast Chair & Barstool hope that you will visit our booth and check out the amazing restaurant furniture that we are bringing to display.  From indoors to outdoors, we will have chairs, bar stools, tables, bases, and booths that you can get your hands on to see the quality that we are so proud of.  We will also be bringing some of our latest styles that have never been seen before.  We are excited to have you be the first to sit in our chairs and bar stools, check out our tables and bases, and explore the uniqueness of our reclaimed wood furniture.  Our booth staff will be ready for your arrival, so we’ll see you in Chicago!

Accessibility: What Bar and Restaurant Owners Need to Know

Part 3, Employing Individuals with Disabilities, Person First Terminology, and Communication

handicap_accessible_horizontal_sign_l

Finding good employees can be a difficult task.  You want to hire trustworthy and dependable workers who are great with customers and care about your business.  Who’s to say that an individual with a disability wouldn’t be the right choice?  It seems that in today’s society, inclusion in the workforce is more widely seen than ever before.  This is likely due to the increased acceptance and respect of people with disabilities along with the requirements set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

As mentioned in part 1 and 2 of this series on accessibility, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that protects all individuals with disabilities by prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities in the community.  Not only does this law apply in the community, but also to employment in state and local governments, employment agencies, labor unions, and private employers.  It must include all employment practices including (but not limited to) hiring, firing, training, compensation, recruitment, and all other employment-related activities.

Employing Individuals with Disabilities

Title I of the ADA focuses specifically on employing individuals with disabilities, and it’s a title that bar and restaurant owners are required to follow.  It contains terms that every owner of a public company should know, including what constitutes a qualified individual with a disability, essential job functions, reasonable accommodation, and undue hardship.  Being knowledgeable about the basics of these terms will be helpful in the long run and can in fact work in your favor if you hire or employ an individual with a disability.

A qualified individual with a disability is a person who meets all requirements of the job including education, experience, employment history, skills licenses, and the ability to perform the essential functions of the job.

Essential job functions are the fundamental duties of the job that the person must be able to perform with or without an accommodation.  The term “essential” ensures that an individual with a disability will not be considered unqualified simply because of the inability to perform job functions that do not occur frequently.  If the individual can perform the essential job functions with or without a reasonable accommodation, he/she must be considered.

A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to perform essential job functions.  Some examples include restructuring a job, modified work schedules, or using modified equipment. Reasonable accommodations must be provided unless an undue hardship to the employer will result.

An undue hardship refers to an action that would be so costly, disruptive, or extensive, that it would alter the operation of the business.  Factors to consider are the nature and cost of the accommodation, the type of operation, the employer’s size and financial resources, and the impact of the accommodation on the operation.

In addition to these important terms, the ADA also states that:

  • Employers may not retaliate against employees or applicants who apply the ADA.
  • Employers may not ask an applicant whether or not he/she has a disability.
  • Employers can deny employment to a person who poses a threat to the health and safety of himself/herself or others.
  • Employers may not require a qualified potential employee to obtain a physical exam prior to the employment offer.
  • Employees with disabilities must have available to them the same health insurance coverage as all other employees.

 

Person-First Terminology

Person-First terminology is communication which focuses on the person first.  In the realm of disabilities, this type of communication would recognize the person first before the individual’s disability. So instead of saying the “autistic boy,” you would say the “boy with autism.” Or instead of staying the “deaf woman,” you would say the “woman who is deaf.”  And in regular conversation, it’s not appropriate to even discuss a person’s disability unless it is relevant to the topic of conversation.   The best way to not confuse this terminology is to refer to every individual by his or her name; plain and simple.

 

Communication

Whether you are speaking to an employee or a customer who has a disability, it’s important that you speak respectfully and appropriately in order to maintain a great relationship.  Is this part of the ADA?  No, but it is respectful, proper, and appropriate.  Here are some considerations that you and your entire staff should follow when speaking to anyone with a disability:

  • When talking to an individual with a disability, speak directly to that person rather than to the individual who may be accompanying him/her.
  • When speaking to a person who uses a wheelchair, place yourself at eye level in front of the person to facilitate the conversation.
  • Treat adults as adults. Address individuals by their first name and speak to them in a manner that is respectful and appropriate.
  • Listen attentively when you are speaking with an individual who may have difficulty speaking. Be patient and wait for him/her to finish rather than speaking for him/her.  Never pretend to understand what the individual is saying, rather repeat what you did understand and give him/her the opportunity to respond.
  • When meeting a person with a visual impairment, always identify yourself and others who may be with you.
  • Never lean or hang on a person’s wheelchair as it is often thought to be an extension of the individual’s personal space.
  • Don’t assume that the only topic the individual with a disability wants to talk about is his or her disability. Rather, communication should focus on topics that are typical conversation amongst two individuals.  And, when introducing someone with a disability, always refer to them by their first name.  Do not mention their disability unless it is pertinent to the conversation at hand.
  • Always use person-first terminology.

 

As we conclude this series on accessibility for bar and restaurant owners, we hope that we have opened your eyes to where your bar or restaurant stands with regard to accessibility and communication.  Can your customers or employees with disabilities easily enter your establishment?  Are they able to access services once they enter your doors?  Do they feel accepted and respected when dealing with your staff?    Those may be easy questions to answer but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  We encourage you to continue to formulate questions to answer that will help you evaluate your bar or restaurant when it comes to being accessible.  These answers will allow you to make the necessary changes that will in turn welcome all customers into your establishment.  And these changes will keep your doors wide open to the diversity that our world has to offer.

Accessibility: What Bar and Restaurant Owners Need to Know

 Part 2 of 3, Exterior Considerations

Difference-Usability-Accessibility-2
Accessibility isn’t only a requirement for the interior of your bar or restaurant.  Individuals needing accommodations have to be able to drive up, park, and access your services with the same ease as everyone else.  Not to say that an accessible interior is less important but how can a customer with a disability take advantage of your menu items if they can’t get in?

Americans with Disabilities Act

As noted in part 1 of this blog series titled Accessibility: What Bar and Restaurant Owners Need to Know, Interior Considerations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that protects individuals with disabilities by prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities.  There are many titles within this law which specifically target requirements that facilities must follow but the one that is applicable to bars and restaurants is Title III.  This title states, “no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation (ADA, 1990).”  In doing this, facilities need to remove barriers, yet it is decided on a case-by-case basis as to whether those barriers are easily removed by the establishment without financial hardship.  Regardless of whether the change is made or not, continual re-evaluation of barriers is essential in assuring that accessibility is achieved.
Exterior Considerations

You’ve probably pulled in to many parking lots and noticed designated accessible parking spaces, accessible signs, curb cuts, and ramps, all which welcome individuals with disabilities into any public facility.  The ADA requires that these are in place so as to give those with diverse needs the ability to utilize that particular public service.  In addition to these requirements, there are many other exterior regulations that apply any facility or establishment.  Here is a sampling of the most important requirements set forth by the ADA that would specifically be of interest to bars and restaurants.

Handicapped Sign2Parking and Drop-off Areas

  • An adequate number of accessible parking spaces must be available for individuals with accessible parking tags. The guidelines that determine the number of spaces you need to have depends on the total number of parking spaces that are available.  For example, if you have 1-25 parking spaces, you must have one accessible parking space; for 26-50 parking spaces, you need two accessible spaces; for 51-75 parking spaces, you need three accessible spaces; and for 76-100 parking spaces, you need four accessible spaces.
  • At least one of every eight accessible parking spaces must be van accessible with a minimum of one van accessible space at all facilities.
  • Accessible car and van spaces must both be 8-feet wide with an access isle on each side. For a car, the access isle must be at least 5-feet wide and for vans, the access isle must be at least 8-feet wide.

 

Route of Travel

Route of travel refers to the route that an individual takes to arrive on site, approach the building, and enter as freely as everyone else.

  • At least one route of travel should be safe and accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities. If there are stairs into your establishment, a ramp or alternate route on level ground needs to be added.
  • The route of travel must be free of uneven, bumpy surfaces with holes or breaks as well as be at least 36-inches wide. These surfaces must be stable, firm, and slip-resistant.
  • Any curbs on the route of travel must have a curb cut or a small ramp to the curb for ease of movement.

rampRamps

  • Ramps must host a width of at least 36-inches between railing and curbs with sturdy railings at the height of between 34 and 38-inches. These railings must be on both sides of the ramp if the ramp is longer than 6-feet.
  • Ramps must have a non-slip surface with a 5-foot-long level landing at every 30-foot horizontal length of ramp, at the top, bottom, and at switchbacks.
  • The slope of the ramp must not be greater than a 1:12 ratio. This means that for every 12-inches along the base of the ramp, the height increases one inch.

Entrances

  • The ADA requires that if there are stairs at the main entrance, there must also be a ramp or a lift or an alternate entrance for individuals with disabilities to enter.
  • There must be appropriate signage at all inaccessible entrance as to the location of the nearest accessible entrance, which must also be able to be used independently (without assistance or service to enter like waiting for someone to answer a doorbell, operate a lift, or put down a temporary ramp).
  • Accessible parking must also be located by all accessible entrances for ease of entering the facility.
  • Entrance doors must have at least a 32-inch clear opening with at least 18-inches of clear wall space on the pull side of the door next to the handle so that individuals who use wheelchairs or crutches can get close enough to open the door.
  • Beveled edges in the door must not measure more than 3/4-inch high and any mats or carpeting in the entrance must be secure and not more than 1/2-inch high.
  • Door handles cannot be any higher than 48-inches and must be operable with a closed fist in order for individuals who have limited use of their hands to be able to open.
  • Doors must also be easy to open without too much force and if the door has a door closer, it must take at least three seconds to close.

 

Appropriate Terminology

As you may have noticed in this article, the terms “handicap parking” and “handicap sign” were not used, or any use of the word “handicap” for that matter.  And, you may be wondering why since it is a word that most people use.  Let us explain.  In today’s world, terminology within the world of disabilities is changing for the better.  Instead of looking at a disability in a negative way, a more positive approach with regard to the terms used is taking place.  Instead of “handicap parking,” it is most appropriate to say “accessible parking.”  Just like it is most appropriate to say “accessible signs,” “accessible entrances,” and so forth.  Would you have been aware of these changes if you had not been reading this article?  Likely not, so we’re glad you did.  It takes being educated for change to happen and a difference to be made.  And as bar or restaurant owners, you can make a difference by not only educating yourself and your staff on the appropriate use of terminology but also by using it with your customers.

 

The exterior of your bar or restaurant is the first impression patrons get when they pull up with the desire to explore your menu.  So, why not make it welcoming for all?  By following the requirements set forth by the ADA with regard to parking, signage, routes, and entrances on the exterior of your establishment, any individual with a disability that pulls up will surely feel as if your doors have been opened just for them.

 

For more information on more specific requirements set forth by the ADA, please refer to the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division website at www.ada.gov.