The latest New Mobility magazine has a number of guests discussing accessible accommodations. Ashley Lyn Olson, CEO and founder of the organization Wheelchairtraveling.com writes about the good, bad, and ugly in her travels, and is upbeat even in the face of marginal accessibility. “There have been so many times where hotels are supposed to be accessible, and they generally are, but maybe they have an older building,” says Olson. Her pet peeve is bathrooms. “Some hotels say ‘you can roll into the bathroom, totally,’ but I need a roll-in shower. Of course I can roll into the bathroom. And they don’t know the difference,” writes Olson. And then there is bed height. “Sometimes I’ll use the bed sheets as a rope and climb up the bed……there’s no requirement for bed height by the ADA (Americans with xxxx) which blows my mind.” She has learned a trick that usually works when reserving an accessible hotel room. “If you need something really specific, when you make a reservation, talk to someone in housekeeping or maintenance, since they know the hotel intimately,” she suggests. Be very specific, recommends Olson. It’s not good enough to just ask if a hotel has a shower bench — you have to find out if it’s big enough, and even if it has a back.
Kleo King is senior vice president of Accessibility Services for United Spinal Association, and a member on one of the U.S. Access Board’s advisory committees. She writes that newly-disabled people may not know they have to specify that they need an accessible room with particular features, and “even those who do specify that on their reservation can have it get messed up,” Even when people know exactly what they need, they still might not get it. “Since the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, hotel reservations are supposed to be better. They’re supposed to take your request offline, if you use an Internet portal, and have that roll-in shower for you,” says King. “So if someone comes in and demands it, they’re not supposed to get that room. You reserved it, you need it. If all the rooms are booked, then they can call other hotels in the area to get a room, maybe send the customer to the other Marriott, that kind of thing.” But your room that you reserved, with all the specific accommodations you requested, ought to be there when you arrive. “The bigger chains do better with this,” says King. “There are some accessibility features the ADA is very specific about, but there are still “glaring areas that need improvement.”
Scott Rains, an international consultant on travel and universal design, and author of the Rolling Rains Report, says that the lack of consistency from hotel to hotel in how bathrooms are laid out can be odd. “Some of the bathrooms are so tiny or made so weirdly you can’t get in past the door, sinks or toilets. In an accessible bathroom that meets the standards, the height range may not be good for some people. In some people’s opinions, even ADA-standard toilets are not sufficient.” To keep accessibility in the U.S. in perspective, Rains talks about how the burning issue in Asia is to get hotels to stop putting in a 3-inch-tall, 1-inch-wide curb between the guestroom’s bedroom and bathroom.
The article concludes with a list of resources, an assessment of the most important aspects of access, lists of hotel chains that are the most accessible and most reliable when it comes to honouring a reservation for an accessible room, and notes about equipment.
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