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Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 33,604
reviews: 54
Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

ACCESSIBILITY CHECKLIST FOR HOTEL ACCOMMODATION

Accessibility is not standardized in the hotel industry and can be easily interpreted in different ways by hotel employees. Rather than look for “wheelchair friendly” hotels in the forums, have your criteria and needs ready and deal with the hotel directly. Often hotel websites will show that they have accessible rooms, but their definitions may differ widely and they may not be designed to meet your needs. At this point, you call directly.

Some things to ask a hotel:

Common areas:

1. designated handicap parking with a priority location in the parking lot.

2. step free access (level or ramped) and/or lift access to main entrance.

3. automated door opening.

4. ground level/lobby level accessible washroom.

5. elevator to above ground accessible accommodation.

6. level or ramped access to public areas.

Rooms:

1. wider entry and bathroom doorways – external 80 cm, internal 75 cm. Easy to open?

2. mid-height light switches and power outlets

3. lever type door handles

4. maneuvering space on each side of the bed – 90 cm

5. roll in shower

6. wheeled shower chair and/or wall mounted shower seat

7. grab bars in bathroom

8. raised toilet

9. lower hanging space in closet

Neighbourhood:

1. proximity to markets, pubs, restaurants ... up to 500 m distant.

2. proximity to health services.

Tips:

1. Call hotel directly.

2. Keep notes: names, dates, times, topics, what’s agreed and confirmation numbers. Take these notes and print outs with you on your vacation.

3. Ask to talk to someone who is familiar with handicap rooms because they have been in them.

4. Ask questions that will elicit information rather than a yes or a no.

- Describe ...

- Tell me about ...

5. Check that you have a credit card GUARANTEE for an accessible room and a confirmation number. Not just a REQUEST for an accessible room if available at the time of check in.

6. Reconfirm your reservation for a guaranteed accessible room a couple of days ahead.

7. When you arrive, check out the room before you check in.

8. Again, take your notes and print outs with you on your vacation.

More tips:

Be prepared, in the unlikely event that:

1. the hotel does not have the accessible room available for you when you arrive. The hotel will need to find you an accessible room, even in another hotel. (See #6 just above) “Where will you put us up for the night?”

2. the complimentary hotel shuttle may not be accessible. The hotel will need to accommodate the service in some other way. “How will you provide alternate shuttle service for us?”

Be cool, be persistent, use a sense of humour and your vacation will be much more a pleasure than a nightmare.

Dymchurch, Kent, UK.
posts: 25
reviews: 11
71. Re: Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

Thank you, yes.

We are going to Khao Lak in Thailand. I have been communicating with a fellow T/A member who has been very helpful.

As you say, catering for disabled people is by no means a "one size fits all".

I tend to try and get a recommendation from someone, then contact the owner of the accommodation, then book for a short time. If all is well, I then try to extend my stay accordingly.

Pittsburgh...
posts: 14
reviews: 25
72. Re: Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

Hi, folks,

I'm delighted to find this thread and forum, and although I'm fairly new to the ranks of those needing to take accessibility into account to one extent or another, I'm not new to the concept or necessary parameters as a long-time former paramedic and interior designer who specializes in aging-in-place and accessibility, mostly in the residential market.

I do agree that it's high time that Trip Advisor start building in mechanisms to review locations for accessibility, but since they do not, I've started adding accessibility comments to my own reviews, and would suggest that all here do the same. At minimum, knowing who some other disabled travelers are should give us a place to start to look for reviews that at least consider accessibility to one extent or another.

I'd also just like to point out in the discussion of what to look for that in no location will you ever find consideration for *all* types of disabilities as part of the built environment. The standards, where they exist, are designed to account for the "average" person (who of course doesn't really exist), including "average" reaches, heights, etc., and for the most common disabilities, which translates to basically the wheelchair-bound, blind, and deaf. Nice as it would be, it's really not reasonable to expect businesses to try to anticipate every possible need. And even if they could do so in a room or three, there's nothing saying that those particular rooms would always even be available when *you* needed one.

Rooms are also designed with current design trends in mind, which pillow-top mattresses already mentioned in this thread illustrate, and even if a hotel equipped some rooms with lower beds, there's always going to be someone who ends up with one of those rooms who needs a higher bed, or vice versa. This is part of why they go for the "average", because then everything is standardized. Furniture is also bought in bulk at reduced costs for larger hotels, often manufactured to order in the far East, and anything that falls outside of the standard becomes *astronomically* more expensive for the business.

Ignorance and lack of required modifications contribute to locations not being accessible (because the fact of the matter is that if the law doesn't require it, most businesses simply aren't going to do it, not to mention how greasing palms, etc. can often get people around the requirements), but two of the biggest obstacles are simple cost to the building owner, and physical possibility. In most cases, at least in the US, businesses are not required to make modifications if, basically, the cost would be prohibitive to the business, or if the basic structure or nature of the building precludes it. One would probably not be required, for example, to install an elevator in an historic house that is open to the public, or in a small building in which it would take up an inordinate amount of space required for the operation of the business like a large chunk of the dining room in a small restaurant.

Building and business owners have rights, too, and rightfully so. Accessibility laws attempt to balance those with the needs of the disabled public.

Unfortunately, this means that more older and historic properties will not be accessible, period, and that those for whom this matters need to look more to newer ones.

We think it would be so easy to put grab bars, ramps, and elevators everywhere, for example, but when a business is faced with the expenses involved in equipping hundreds of rooms with even *one* single new item like a grab bar, the costs multiply well beyond what is apparent to the average traveler.

Likewise, to install an elevator is an expense of probably *at least* $100,000, and not all businesses can afford that - nor is it even possible in all locations like many older and smaller buildings. Ditto with ramps.

Sometimes there just isn't the space given how the building and neighborhood are configured - Georgetown in Washington, DC just provided me with a very graphic reminder of these issues myself. It's unfortunate, but some places like many of these older, small, converted houses are simply never going to be accessible because to make them so would create a greater hazard and obstruction problem for everyone.

So, by all means, make your checklists and ask about your needs and desires, and good luck with finding what you are seeking. I would just ask that you keep in mind that we are not the only population with needs to be met with regard to the built environment, and to keep some of these issues in mind when making judgments about what a given business has or hasn't done to accommodate the disabled, because oftentimes what is there is the result of a careful balancing act in an admittedly impossible quest to be most things to the most people possible.

Edited: 5:55 pm, June 09, 2013
New York
posts: 16
reviews: 8
73. Re: Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

Or in the USA just ask for an "ADA" room. Then they will meet ALL of these standards and ones you haven't possibly thought about. Much easier.

Kx

Nowy Sacz, Poland
Destination Expert
for Poland
posts: 4,024
reviews: 42
74. Re: Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

As a matter of interest ... a LOT of hotels, restaurants etc here in Poland are entered up a flight of stairs - I think it's because where we live the land is rarely flat plus we get a lot of winter snow! Houses, too, are often up a flight of stairs.

But a lot of places have fitted exteral lifts. They're screw driven, so slow, but also cheaper and with lower maintenance costs - you basically dig a hole next to the terrace, drop in a pre-built base unit containing the "bottom", the motor and screw and the lift platform, then quickly add prefabricated side panels as necessary.

On the other hand, there are many places than should know better - the inaccessible shopping malls, etc. My partner and I often play the "see how far he can push me" up the moving walkways between floors - pause, run, slow, grab brakes ...

southampton
posts: 27
reviews: 13
75. Re: Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

Hi there thanks for your input looks like Poland is off the holiday list then

76. Re: Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

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77. Re: Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

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Edited: 12:09 pm, October 16, 2013
New York
posts: 16
reviews: 8
78. Re: Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

Cap Tel is an excellent suggestion I hadn't thought of, the others are included.

Thanks for the suggestions Dixie987. If anyone has any others, don't hesitate to contribute. Also, don't forget to vote for the initial suggestion at Marriott Mobility. Mobility is how we ALL get around, no matter your disability or ability. Old or young, without mobility none of us can do anything at all. Make it happen! Make mobility a minimum requirement for everyone. We are, of course, all one.

Cheers! K, xxxx

79. Re: Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

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Removed on: 3:35 am, November 02, 2013
Vadodara, India
posts: 22
reviews: 134
80. Re: Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation

Really! You are going to call the hotel and ask all these questions. In India this would take an hour. The truth is that most staff handling the telephones are not really knowledgeable about anything but the basics of the size room facilities and types of bed. I have tried speaking to the higher echelons but this doesn't make much difference

I have tried asking questions like this and at least in India it is a waste of time. Even 5 star hotels can't answer the most basic of questions by email let alone on the phone. I have very bad experiences with Oberoi and with Meridian hotels in India in this regard.