3 Totally Doable Resolutions for 2021 to Jumpstart Your ADA/504 Compliance

Dewey sunrise in park.

It’s 2021!  New year!  Fresh calendar!  Let’s go!  Right?!

Or not.

Surely you have read dozens of articles outlining the pitfalls of resolutions in the new year.  Business Insider says 80% of new year’s resolutions fail by February.  In fact, January 12 has already been designated as “Quitter’s Day.”

The positive aspect of any resolution is that it gives you the opportunity to reflect on where you have been and set a goal for the future.  Resolutions can support positive change.  As an ADA/504 Coordinator, we are always looking for ways to support positive change within our organization that can benefit the inclusion of people with disabilities.  So here we have three totally doable resolutions for 2021 that can jumpstart your ADA/504 compliance program.

1. Commit to Professional Development.  Successful implementation of the ADA continues to evolve by way of emerging standards development, technology, research and case law.  For ADA/504 Coordinators, it is essential to seek out training and other resources that address the issues, challenges and opportunities to improve access for people with disabilities within the organization.  Of equal importance is the need for continuing education for members of the accessibility management team (ADA/504 compliance team). 

Our favorite opportunity for face-to-face professional development is the annual ADA Symposium. This national conference brings together leading experts in the field with more than 1,000 professionals with ADA/504 compliance responsibilities from all over the country.  The program is jam-packed with educational sessions highlighting the new trends and best practices affecting our field of compliance.  The sessions count toward the foundational requirements of the ADA Coordinator Training Certification Program (ACTCP).  The 3 ½ day symposium offers as many as 11 concurrent sessions.  We love it when organizations send several members of their accessibility management team to “divide and conquer” coordinating which sessions they attend to ensure they get to hear from the wide variety of national experts on a range of topics.

And of course, our favorite real-time and on-demand ADA training is the ADA Audio Conference Series produced by the Great Lakes ADA Center and the ADA National Network.  Monthly web-broadcasts are topical and timely to ADA/504 compliance.  The program has more than 232 archived sessions on disability regulations with insights from enforcement agencies and national leaders in our field.  And here’s the best part, real-time or on-demand……the sessions are FREE! 

2. Get the Band Back Together.  When is the last time your accessibility management team met in person to talk about disability and inclusion issues facing the organization and collaborate on effective solutions?  Sure, we all can get too overwhelmed with meetings.  So maybe it means getting the band back together in new and exciting ways.  Consider touring a part of your building or site that has recently undergone accessibility improvements or where planned projects are to be scheduled in the next few years.  ADA/504 compliance responsibilities need to be delegated across departments.  As such, communication is critical.  Where are we at?  What are our successes?  What challenges still exists?  What strategies should be put into place to not only make sure the organization is ADA/504 compliant, but truly inclusive for both employees and customers with disabilities?

3. Listen. And Engage with the Disability Community. Do you know what your customers and community members with disabilities think about accessibility and inclusion within your organization? Purposeful listening is a great first step toward community engagement.  Invite people to make public comment in a formal community listening session or town hall.  Work to build relationships with disability advocacy agencies that can bring new perspectives to the way you deliver goods and services.  Consider using the months leading up to the anniversary of the ADA for community engagement and relationship building.

ADA is only the beginning. It is not a solution. Rather, it is an essential foundation on which solutions will be constructed. 

–Justin Dart, Jr., (ADA Worklife, Fall 1990 issue by Presidents Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities)