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Proposed Changes To ADA

BY Marianne Wilson

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) went into effect in 1990, the courts have expanded their interpretation in a number of ways. For retailers, one of the chief concerns remains to ensure that disabled customers in wheelchairs are able to enter and exit stores, access merchandise, and visit all floors and areas of the store.

However, changes to the ADAAG are in the works, including ones that could have an impact on retail stores.

For some time now, the Department of Justice has been collecting information and establishing new standards for consideration. Revisions are in the final stages, and the Department of Justice has published an “Advanced Notice of Public Comment” regarding the proposed new guidelines. Additionally, a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” is under review by other departments in the government.

“At this point, we cannot say when the ‘Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’ will be released to the public for review. But once it is, a 60-day public comment period will commence, plus thousands of public comments already submitted will be reviewed,” said Klaus Reichardt, managing partner, Waterless Co. LLC, Vista, Calif., a manufacturer of waterless urinal systems and related restroom items.

Some of the items under consideration apply specifically to retail stores, while others are more general and apply to all public facilities. Some of these changes include:

• Conformity: Bring all or as many of the guidelines into conformity with industry standards and building codes;

• ATMs: The new proposals would allow greater access to vision- and hearing-impaired individuals, as well as set specifications on height placements of the machines; and

• Restrooms: The key changes here involve reach access or the height limits of washroom features, such as soap and paper dispensers, hand dryers and coat hangers. A particularly big adjustment would apply to the space between the edge of the lavatory and the center line of the water closet. Previous standards called for a minimum of 18 inches between the two points, but the new revisions require 60 inches.

Not all of the proposed changes that would specifically impact retail stores have been clearly identified at this point. But some of the changes under consideration include ensuring that sales counters are of a specific size to make them “workable” and accessible for disabled employees and customers, and providing visual alarms for the hearing impaired. Another change: broadening the accessible circulation-path specifications for employee work areas (this also could have an impact on how equipment is laid out).

According to Reichardt, although these proposed changes would likely be implemented, the process is slow and it could take a while before the new regulations are put into place.

As to what actions retailers should take now, he offered the following advice:

“Be sure that you comply with all present regulations, and put into practice proposed regulations as long as they do not result in significant expense or difficulty.”

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Survey: Businesses want to go green, but afraid of costs

BY CSA STAFF

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. According to a survey of 2,500 business professionals by Office Depot, half of all respondents are interested in making their offices “greener.”

While 50% of those surveyed said they’d like to have a greener office, more than half (55%) said they did not associate going green with saving money.

According to Yalmaz Siddiqui, director of environmental strategy for Office Depot, There is actually a range of cost scenarios that a business could face when deciding to go green, he explained. Some choices, like remanufactured cartridges, cost less; some require an upfront investment but come with long term cost savings, like compact fluorescent lights; some products entail no price difference; and some green ideas do cost more. The trick is to understand the different options and not assume that going green will always result in higher costs.

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Toys ‘R’ Us to be exclusive retailer of ‘Soul Bubbles’ Nintendo DS game

BY CSA STAFF

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. Toys “R” Us will be the exclusive retailer of Soul Bubbles, a new game for Nintendo DS created by Eidos Interactive.

“Creative and refreshing, Soul Bubbles is a unique game that DS owners won’t want to miss,” said Robert Lindsey, evp of sales and marketing for Eidos Inc. “This is a charming story combined with gameplay that pushes the capabilities of the Nintendo DS is sure to engage all puzzle gaming fans.”

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