As of 2010 more than 50 million Americans have disabilities and each is a potential customer. An increasing number of people are finding mobility and independence by utilizing a trained service dog. While the disability may not be obvious to others, the use of a service dog creates a visible indicator that some form of assistance is needed. A service dog is trained to perform tasks that are directly related to the disability of the handler.
On average, the small business owner was at the mercy of not understanding the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, not because of a desire to discriminate, but because of the shear volume of information contained in the requirements and the amount of time involved to find the information specific to their situation. While the ADA does its best to disseminate information throughout the country by using eight districts and requesting that everyone please share the information available through the ADA.gov site, it is not reaching everyone that would benefit from the basics of the act. One of the clear statements of the ADA Basic Building Blocks Online course that pertains to how business owners can gain knowledge in any of the areas of the act is to use a trade organization to train the employees of a business. Access 4 Service Dogs is just such an organization to ask for information about service dogs in public.
Acquiring a trained service dog is an intense process that takes full commitment of the handler to the care and well being of the dog in order for the partnership to be successful. The expense of time and money is a large investment that is beyond monetary value to the person with a disability. This monumental effort is so that they to can be part of normal everyday activities. Once people with disabilities find a business where they can shop or get services in an accessible manner, they become repeat customers. Once businesses let go of an assumed increase in risk and welcome service dogs and their handlers as viable consumers they will see an increase traffic from the portion of the 18% of the population that have disabilities that use a service dog.