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In this two-part blog, we will be discussing something pretty delicate in our world right now. It is one of our personal goals to strive to not only help our clients and fellow small business owners grow their businesses, but we also strive to educate others and tell the truth about what's happening in the world of business right now. Today, we are going to be discussing a very important hot topic, being ADA compliant!
Hello, Summerville, and hello 2021! How many times have you written the date wrong so far this year? I've done it an embarrassingly amount of times! Anyway, welcome back to the blog writer's desk, and while we are just a few weeks into the new year, it is still such an exciting time to own a business. While so many people hate the beginning of a new year as much as they hate Mondays, when we look at a new year we see the beginnings of something very special and exciting. We have the opportunity to grow and become the company we want to be, and to help our clients do the same. That, to us, is incredibly exciting and one of the many reasons why starting fresh in a new year is what we live for!
One of the ways we try to help all of our clients and fellow small business owners grow is to inspire them to look at every new year as a new opportunity. It's the perfect time to go after their goals and a perfect time to plan how to reach them. We also try to take the time in the first few months to continue educating our clients on what is happening now in our industry, and how that might impact their business on a day to day basis, and what to be cautious of. Currently, one of the hottest trends in the marketing world and the website design world is offering clients to help them become ADA compliant. It's a sad reality that many marketing companies will use scare tactics to force small companies into a website contract with them, claiming that they aren't ADA compliant which could land them in a huge lawsuit. This is such an unnecessary and cruel thing to do to small businesses, who are already struggling to make ends meet in the first place. We want to state that by law, there are actually no guidelines that state exactly what or how your website must be set up to be ADA compliant. At least there isn't anything yet. If you are being bothered or badgered by a company telling you otherwise, please brush them off or speak with us. They're being bullies, and we don't like bullies here at Creative Consulting. In this two-part blog, we are going to be talking about what ADA Compliance is, how your company needs to be approaching this term and its current guidelines, and why the threat of being in danger isn't anything close to what many companies will say that you are in. Yes, you need to be compliant, but there is wiggle room, which is what we will be talking about today.
Let's take a step back though before we get in over our heads or things get confusing. The ADA is the American With Disabilities Act that requires physical locations to provide fair access and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Some of the most common examples of this are restaurants and public buildings must provide wheelchair accessibility and they must provide menus and other reading materials in Braille for customers who are visually impaired. Today, in our very media-heavy and driven world, ADA compliance has now spread out to the digital world and our digital devices. ADA compliance is now requiring all websites to provide accessibility for all on their webpages. This can include web content that can be used by those who are blind, for those who are deaf, help for those who must navigate by using their voices, and providing screen readers to help read and describe all content on the webpage for those who might not be able to see it. So yes, by law you must be ADA compliant and provide these options. Your website must also not prohibit the use of these tools that we've mentioned above that would prevent an individual with a disability to access your webpage as needed. However, here is the kicker! There are no clear ADA regulations that spell out how every website must be laid out and designed to provide accessibility to everyone with a disability. There is so much grey area, and so much unknown, which people are taking advantage of and trying to decide what it means for them, not for the digital world across the board. All it states by legal documentation is that all businesses that fall under Tier 1 or Tier 3 must provide internet content that gives at least "reasonable accessibility" to individuals with disabilities according to Business News Daily, but that is all that they say and no guidelines or examples have truly been supplied.
What businesses fall under these different tiers? That's when it begins to get a little tricky. Tier 1 Businesses are those that have at least 15 full-time employees and are open for business at least 20 weeks out of the year, and they somehow engage in an industry that adds to and affects commerce. However, if you have 14 or fewer employees (for example you are a self-employed company of one) and you work less than those 20 weeks a year, you don't have to comply as being Title 1. According to Findlaw.com any tax-exempt private membership clubs also do not count as being Tier 1 businesses. Businesses that are owned by a Native American Tribe are also exempt from being Title 1. However, Tier 3 gets a little more tricky because more businesses fall under its umbrella. Tier 3 businesses are businesses that are considered and live in the category of being public accommodations. Examples of this included and are not limited to:
ADA was passed in 1990, making sure that all public access locations had to provide accommodations for everyone, including those with disabilities. 20 years later in 2010, the Department of Justice passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design which mandated that all electronic information and devices had to be accessible to those with disabilities. However, because the law states that you only have to be ADA compliant if you fall under Tier 1 and Tier 3, it is still best to discuss with a lawyer what you should do for their website to not run into any issues. While there is no reason to prevent someone with disabilities from enjoying your website and content, for those who don't fall under those tiers, you shouldn't be badgered into building a website with a company you don't want to work with because they are saying your not ADA compliant, and the only way to avoid a lawsuit is to work with them. Remember, there are no clear rules about being ADA compliant, however, again, you need to be respectful of the ADA complaint ideals. What we are trying to explain here is that you can make these additions and adjustments yourself to your website. You can even make your website more accessible for those who use different tools to access and enjoy it, and to make sure they aren't turned away from it.
Many companies today, since it is such a grey area topic with no real definition, will take advantage of the fact that this world has no clear-cut definition and will attack smaller companies that don't fit in any tier. They will bully and scare them into buying a website from them, and in our books that is a bad business tool. In the second half of this blog, we are going to be continuing our discussion about being ADA compliant, its current battle, and how to keep your company compliant while not being bullied by others to conform to their incorrect definition of being ADA compliant. This is a touchy topic and one that we need to talk about more. If you feel that you might be going against ADA compliance or in some trouble because of not following what ADA guidelines there are, please contact us and we will work through it together! Until next time Summerville, stay safe and stay caffeinated!
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In one of our very last blogs for 2020, we are wrapping up this blog series about the best things you can do for your business now to make the new 2021 the best year yet!
Hello, Summerville! Welcome back to the blog writer's desk! The year is slowly picking itself up and putting itself away, and boy was it one for the books. We are happy to see it go, and we are happy and excited to see what this new year will be bringing us. As all of us at Creative Consulting have been gathering for our last in-person meetings of 2020, it's been interesting to sit back and see what this year has taught us. First and foremost it has taught us how resilient our town is. Nothing can stop Summerville! In fact, through all of the challenges we have been through as a community, it has been incredible to see just how much we have supported one another and continued to grow together and for one another. We have seen compassion, hope, and the dedication each of you have to your families, community, and your passions.
We have also experienced so much support and an outpouring of love from all of you supporting small businesses of all kinds right here in town. You decided to shop small, give big, and give back to your community. You took more time to be proud of the movers, makers, and shakers right here in town, Thanks to that you now own beautiful pieces of artwork and homemade products made by your incredibly talented neighbors, and you have tried some of the best new dishes and desserts made from your neighbors that you might not have known about unless the pandemic had happened, a tough silver lining, but one just the same. We have also seen resilience in our industry that we are so thankful for. We are honored to support and care for your businesses, and to help build and support them to help reach all of your goals and more. It has been an honor working with each of you, and we look forward to ringing in 2021 with you and stepping into new beginnings.
In part one of this blog, we spent time talking about all of the financial things you can do right now to help save on your 2020 taxes. While many of those decisions, purchases, and money moves might seem like a little bit of strain on your business accounts at the end of a very difficult year, we promise that they are still good decisions. While you might feel every penny this time of year, you will appreciate the time you dedicated to following the list in our previous blog and spending a little more money now. Come April 15th, your tax expenses will not be as challenging to cover, painful, or a surprise. In this blog, we are focusing more on the business aspects of closing out a year. What can you be focusing on and working on now that can help you create the best business plan for 2021? How can you make your goals become realities? How can you uplift and support your team? Let's talk about it!
Year-End Count Down
Before we all wrap up our work for the new year and settle into our holiday parties with our coworkers, there is still so much left to do. This is our busiest time of the year, so we understand that sometimes things can get lost in the shuffle. Don't let that happen this year! Use this end of the year checklist to wrap up 2020 and get your head in the game for 2021! We know the pandemic has been devastating to so many of you, and many companies are still trying to recover from its reverberations. Keep strong, keep going, you've got this!
From all of us at Creative Consulting, thank you for an incredible year! We deeply appreciate your support and friendship and couldn't do what we do without all of you and the incredible town of Summerville. We are so appreciative to our clients who have been with us for years, our new 2020 clients, and all of our future clients. We wish you all a very exciting and wonderful 2021!
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Get to know the hilarious, hard-working, and creative individuals that make up the Creative Consulting family one blog at a time.
Hello, Summerville! Welcome back to the blog writer's desk for a very special edition of the blog. This is our very last team member spotlight (for now) and one of the very last blogs of 2020. While our beautiful little town is aglow both day and night with holiday decorations, people (safely) shopping and enjoying their surroundings, and everyone getting excited for the holidays, I will be officially taking over this blog. That's right! The blog writer herself will be stepping out from behind the pen and you will get the chance to get to know her a little better! I thought it would only be fair since my wonderful teammates took the time to let me interview them. While the appeal of being the mysterious masked writer for Creative Consulting does have a nice ring to it, I do have a substantial amount of FOMO (fear of missing out), so I thought why not? Let's jump into this thing, shall we?
Hello, everyone! My name is Maddie Casto and I am the blog writer for Creative Consulting! I was born in raised in Columbus, Ohio, and graduated from Wright State University with my BFA in Musical Theatre. I moved to New York City in 2012 with some of my best college friends, and we all dove into the world of the New York Performer; catering and auditioning. I didn't realize that once I settled into my very overpriced and tiny apartment that I would spend so much time in my polyester tuxedo and waking up at ungodly hours to stand in the line (in ALL weather) with everything I own to sing and act as best I could under two minutes for a bunch of strangers. Sometimes I'd have a great audition and a great catering shift, other days my audition bag would break in the middle of 8th avenue and a guest would "accidentally" splatter salsa down my all-white (oh yes, we had all white catering tuxedos too!) catering outfit in front of the high strung party planner. I was one of the lucky ones, though. I lived with some of the best people I've ever known, got to explore New York City like a local, and I did get to perform.
No one really tells you that once you get to New York that you'll be spending a lot of time moving away from it to go work while finding a (hopefully nice and clean) sublettor to fill your room and pay your rent while you're gone. Everything was worth it though, I've learned that more times than I can count. On top of multiple regional roles, I got to tour the United States with a children's show called "How I Became A Pirate", I got to perform in Las Vegas and Flordia with a jukebox musical called "The D*Word; Ditched, Dumped, Dating, and Divorced", I worked at one of most beautiful resorts in the United States singing some of my favorite music, and all along the way I continued to work and meet some incredible people while I was doing what I loved. At the end of my contract at said beautiful resort, I happened to send in my headshot and resume to a brand new theater in Charleston, SC for a brand new 1940s Musical called "Boogie Woogie Bugle Gals", and the rest is history. Thanks to this brand new theatre (34 West Theatre Company), Charleston became home before I even realized it. I was very lucky to do four shows with them back to back, hopping back and forth between New York City and Charleston between each one. Then, I met a redheaded chef, fell in love with him and his two very fat cats, and Charleston officially became home. I was in the middle of a wonderful artistic community, I loved this city, and I loved the person I was experiencing it with. I had grown up going to Myrtle Beach every year (don't hate - North Myrtle has a lot of charm!), but this was an introduction to a beautiful and bustling southern town that I didn't expect. I fell in love with so much, and fell in love hard. (Hello - can we talk about the food?!)
One thing many performers won't tell you or talk about is their time in-between shows. That's because it's not the most glamorous or mentally healthy time for a performer. Granted, if a period in between a show is your chance to see your family and friends or go on vacation, that's a totally different story. If you come off of a long contract, get a chance to settle in back at home, and a chance to recover, and still don't have your next show lined up? That's the danger zone. Your bank account starts getting low, your anxiety starts to get high, and you're curious if you'll ever work again. Many performers (not all - we are all very different and all have different paths) have what we call "survivor jobs" aka jobs that help pay the bills but aren't performing jobs. The best survivor jobs are the ones that you love and help ease that time in between shows. They are even better when you get to work with incredibly talented, hilarious, and kind people that inspire you and push you to be better. That's how Creative Consulting kind of fell into my lap - like many things in my life. All by chance, luck, and being in the right place at the right time.
I had been doing some social media work of my own ever since I moved to Charleston in 2015 (again by sheer luck!) and realized that it was not only artistically fulfilling, it was also something I could take with me anywhere. I could get a show tomorrow (well, maybe not TOMORROW, thanks pandemic!) and take my job with me. Ironically it was social media that lead me to Creative. They posted a job advertisement on Facebook, and I just figured why not? I applied, interviewed, and now a year and a half later here I am, part of the crazy and wonderful Creative family, still learning every day, still being creative, and incredibly thankful. 2020 was a doozy for performers, as you can imagine. While there are some performing opportunities out there, I personally don't feel safe about those opportunities right now. With family members and loved ones in those danger zone ages, being engaged to a chef who works at a very popular restaurant, and just being honestly a little afraid of this pandemic, I have chosen to put performing on hold until it's safe (for me) to do so. This is why Creative has been such a saving grace this year. I've been creatively fulfilled, I have a wonderful community of creatives around me and a job. These three things have been taken away from a lot of people due to the pandemic, and because of that, I count my blessings every day.
So, that's me! Now when you visit the Creative offices and you hear someone who is (naturally) a very loud speaker and could potentially be caught singing a show tune or two, you have a better idea of whos behind it. This is also a big virtual hug to the Creative team, and to the whole arts community. You've inspired me with your perseverance and the fact that we are in this together. Since I owe my teammates the same kindness that they gave me - please find my questionnaire filled out below!
Name: Maddie Casto
How long have you been working at CC:
About a year and a half.
How did you hear about the positions:
I happened to see a job posting on Facebook that they had put out looking for a content creator and blog writer. I filled out an application, and about a month later I had my first interview with Meg and Stephen. Like I mentioned in Rebekah's blog, I didn't think I was going to get the job, but looks like the universe had a different idea!
What do you do for CC:
I am the blog writer!
What is your favorite part about working for CC:
The incredible people I work with. They're hilarious, so creative, intelligent, passionate, and I love that my job is another unique creative outlet. In another life, I wanted to be a writer, and by chance, this job is letting me do that!
What have you learned since you worked at CC:
I would have to write an entire blog on this topic! I do feel that I learn something new every time I'm in the office. One of the great things about working for CC is that it is a collaborative learning environment.
What is your favorite part of your workday at CC:
Working with this incredible team! Also, there is NOTHING like how it feels when you've finished writing your blogs for the month.
Favorite memory at CC so far:
Right after I started working with CC, it was their 5 year birthday, and Meg and Stephen threw a huge birthday party with incredible food and invited clients and friends to help celebrate. Seeing that room full of people who loved and supporting the business and meeting the clients was such an exciting experience. However, there is a new great memory that I make almost every week - and I am so thankful for that.
Favorite Summerville Small Business (besides CC):
OH MAN - can I tell you, I love so many, but my new favorite obsession is the Cuban Gypsy Pantry. The FOOD! If you haven't tried it yet - GO NOW!
What is your educational background:
I graduated with a BFA in Acting with an emphasis in Musical Theatre.
What are your hobbies:
Journaling, reading, playing video games, spending way too much time with my cats, watching movies and TV
What is your favorite book, color, song, movie:
Favorite Book: The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert/Where the Crawdad Sings by Delia Owens, and the ENTIRE The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher
Color: Red + Purple
Song: I have so so many. My dad was a radio DJ in the 70s and 80s and my mom introduced all the musical movies to me growing up. I feel like if I name just one, I'm betraying so many others! If There's A Rock Tie Me To by Snow Patrol is one of my all-time favorite pop songs - Roses Turn is one of my all-time favorite Musical Theater Songs.
Favorite Movie: Basically anything with Tom Hanks in it or basically anything on TCM or AMC.
I am an only child, I've moved over 20 times in my life, my dad was a radio DJ in the 70s and 80s, I'm distantly related to Jacques Cousteau, I've met Rosemary Cloony's Brother (George Clooney's dad!)
Asian and Mexican food!
Favorite Restaurant in Charleston/Summerville:
Cuban Gypsy Pantry, Chez Nous, Rutledge Kitchen, Chubby Fish, NICO, Raw 167, Jackrabbit Filly, EVO, Millers All Day, The Daily, Bucher and Bee, Edmunds Oas
Favorite things to do in Charleston/Summerville:
Shopping, try new restaurants, spending time at the beach, spending time with my little family, and finding new coffee shops!
Thank you so much for coming on this journey with us - and here is to the continuation of learning more about our crafts, supporting one another, to a new year, and to working towards new and exciting things together as a community. Thank you for adopting me, Summerville, and for being so supportive of the company that has been so incredibly kind to me. Now that you know almost everything about me, back I go behind my pen! Until next time Summerville, find the silver lining in your life, and stay caffeinated!