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Helping businesses understand the ADA
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The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed by Congress and signed by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Since then, new real estate projects have been required to meet all specifications within the law. What has not happened as much as was anticipated was for existing businesses and developments to conform to those regulations. Recently, there have been several cases throughout California and here in the Valley of law firms contacting small businesses to make them aware of issues of nonconformity in regard to ADA. There have been a few highly publicized cases where onerous settlements have been exacted by these law firms causing a substantial financial burden on some of our smallest and most vulnerable businesses.

The Stanislaus Business Alliance in partnership with our local chambers of commerce, local legislators and other constituency groups are determined to educate and assist all Stanislaus County businesses to understand the Americans With Disabilities Act and come into compliance with its specifications. We do this to prevent burdensome lawsuits and settlements but also to help our citizens who have disabilities have greater access to our exceptional businesses.

Through the leadership of County Supervisor and Alliance Board Vice Chair Bill O'Brien we have created an ADA primer (and an inaugural workshop which will take place on Thursday, Sept. 25 at 7 a.m. at Brenden Theater in downtown Modesto. We invite all businesses to this free workshop.

It is important for each of us to understand the law and learn about resources available to help come into compliance. This workshop will be the first of many throughout the county until we feel confident we have educated every business. Please don't take the threat of lawsuits lightly. Please make it a priority to educate yourself on how you can protect your business.