I’ve recently returned from the Atlantic Coast Expo in Myrtle Beach, S.C. where I sat in on a session Heidi Chico, president of the Wittern Group, gave about how vending operators will need to comply with the revised Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It was a great session, and she fielded many questions attendees had about this wide-spread rule, which took effect in March of this year. But what really caught my attention is when the discussion moved to micro markets.
Since micro markets have kiosks, those pieces of equipment are held to the same set of standards as vending machines, with a maximum height for controls of 48 inches and if there’s a delivery area, it can’t be below a height of 15 inches. The equipment manufacturers already have adjusted their kiosks for these numbers. However, there’s still a looming issue – the shelves and coolers.
Are shelves and coolers ADA compliant?
In an ADA primer for small business owners, retail shelves higher than a person in a wheelchair can reach are acceptable, because there is a staff person present who can assist in product retrieval. Micro markets, as unattended retail stores, with no staff, are left in a gray area.
Right now the act does not say anything about the shelves and coolers associated with the markets. Chico, who has visited representatives on Capitol Hill, hasn’t heard about ADA regulations for markets either. But with operators adding more and more of these systems, it won’t be long before someone files a complaint, and micro markets become a target for new compliance regulations. As an industry we need to start coming up with potential solutions, or arguments, now.