Funding for Accommodations Provided to People with Disabilities Including Mandates under the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act, using a standard of “reasonable accommodation”, mandates that governments and businesses take steps to ensure that people with disabilities have access to employment, government services, and businesses. Such access comes with costs, although not providing such access also imposes costs. There is very little research that documents or estimates these costs. This project is an attempt to take a significant step in the direction of a data-based discussion of this issue. Methodology The goal of this work was to understand different expenses that are incurred by governments or private organizations in order to provide accommodations to people with disabilities, especially those required under the ADA. This was driven by our research questions: (1) What are the financial expenses incurred by the government and private sectors to accommodate people with disabilities? (2) What are the expenses related to compliance with the ADA? In the public sector, we investigated spending at the federal level. To accomplish this work, we identified federal agencies that either (a) provide direct programs or services to support individuals with disabilities, or (b) funding to support programs or services to support individuals with disabilities. We started this list using existing scholarship and expanded our work to include other programs relevant for analysis. We obtained financial data from publicly available information on government agency websites or central repositories. For the public sector we chose a sample of states to streamline our preliminary research efforts. The sample was determined by both region and size, according to data available from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Statistics (BES). For federal spending, the BES divides the United States into eight regions. Within each region, we selected two states for our sample (for the Mideast region 1 state and the District of Columbia were selected for inclusion in the sample). For state spending, all fifty states were initially examined and then a more focused analysis was conducted on 10 states selected from the 5 BES regions. Two states were selected from each region of the United States For the private sector spending, a different approach was used due to the nature of private businesses and the challenges with accessing information on costs associated with ADA compliance. The methodology selected to identify costs and spending involved two stages of data collection and analysis. The first stage was to identify and collect information on any tax-related credits or deductions available to businesses that related in some way to the disabled population. This included the Work Opportunity Tax credit, the Disabled Access Tax Credit and the Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction. The second stage of work entailed an extensive news search was undertaken on a sample of 13 states and the District of Columbia. This effort was undertaken to identify and collect news articles addressing ADA lawsuits or efforts to comply with the mandate for private businesses. For an article to be selected, it needed to mention explicitly the following: (1) one of the 15 states or DC, (2) an ADA lawsuit, (3) the type of business; and (4) the subject of the lawsuit (e.g., inaccessible bathrooms). Within these articles, we sought to identify the amount of spending or costs by businesses.