Have you ever walked down your hotel’s lobby and noticed a sign or poster that mentioned an accessible hotel room? Do you have any idea what is an accessible hotel room, and what makes it different from any other room in your hotel?
Accessible hotel rooms, in the most basic sense, are specially designed hotel rooms dedicated to catering to the needs and necessities of people with disabilities (PWD) or mobility issues. Unlike typical hotel rooms, accessible rooms are built with several features that allow a disabled person to navigate the room with ease. So exactly what is an accessible hotel room and how do you tell if your room is one or not? Let’s find out!
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
Before we go any further, let’s have a brief history of what is an accessible hotel room. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or ADA was established and enacted to protect and support PWDs by setting a series of construction requirements for hotels to be safe and literally accessible for these people.
Some of the requirements included in the ADA Features and Inventory Requirements include having a bathtub with grab bars, roll-in showers, and a communication tool or trained personnel to help communicate better and with ease. According to the ADA regulations, hotels are required to have a specific number of accessible guests’ rooms based on the hotel size and have these rooms distributed across different hotel floors and room types. Regardless, we will discuss the requirements and safety features of accessible hotel rooms next.
Design Considerations of an Accessible Room
One of the main things that define what is an accessible hotel room is its design and layout of the room. It should follow what the law ordered to cater to the needs of PWD guests. Here are some features that accessible rooms have to set them apart from typical hotel guest bedrooms.
Having a simple layout for an accessible hotel room is only logical, considering that this is directed for blind or wheelchair user people. Accessible bedrooms maintain a minimal design and layout with less furniture and décor to make it easier to get around.
Unlike most hotel rooms with carpet flooring, accessible guest rooms have hardwood floors for wheelchairs to have better traction. Instead of pushing the wheelchair extra through the carpet’s heavy wool, hardwood floors allow the wheelchair to roll around the room effortlessly.
Adjacent or Connecting Room
Some accessible rooms have an adjacent or connecting room with easy access to the main bedroom to cater to people with disabilities who travel with an unrelated caregiver. Having an adjacent room offers privacy for both individuals without disregarding the PWD guest’s immediate needs.
One subtle change in the construction of accessible guest rooms is that it features waist-height plugs instead of those lined nearly by the floor for easier access. Accessible guest bedrooms often have their plugs integrated on the desk, on the nightstands, and in the lamp bases.
Specialized Toilet and Bath
The bathroom layout and design have one of the most significant changes as it is meant to cater to people who have difficulty navigating on their own. Unlike most hotel rooms, bathrooms for accessible guest bedrooms need to have a roll-in shower. A transfer bench, two shower heads, grab bars, low toiletry trays, towel racks, and some traction material such as textured concrete/tile or a bath mat should be present to ensure better traction avoid slipping.
Features of an Accessible Hotel Room
Aside from the design and layout changes, accessible rooms have several specific features, tools, and equipment installed in the room to ensure that the guest can navigate the room with minimal or no supervision.
Buzzer and Light Alert
This system is meant for deaf guests to know that someone is on the other side of the door. Instead of having a buzzer only, accessible guest rooms have lights inside that flashes when someone buzzes the door.
Automatic Door Option
One of the distresses PWDs on a wheelchair has to experience most of the time is having to deal with not-so-PWD-friendly doors. Examples are the internal non-fire doors, automatic ‘no door assists’, extremely heavy room doors, or electronic locks that times out a little too fast. As a solution for this problem, accessible guest bedrooms feature automatic door options that take care of the whole ordeal for them.
What are Requests for Reasonable Accommodations?
Aside from the general ADA requirements to change the design, layout, and features of an accessible guest bedroom, hotels are also required to fulfill guests’ requests for reasonable accommodations as long as it does not place an undue burden or extra cost for the hotel business. Here are some reasonable requests that guests usually ask:
- Guests ask to remove the bed frame or box spring to lower the bed to a more acceptable height.
- Some request to remove additional furniture from the room (like chairs or tables) that may impede the wheelchair user’s access.
- Some guests request to provide an extension cord to allow for greater access to electricity.
- Others also request to relocate a telephone or other equipment to a more accessible position.
Knowing what is an accessible hotel room and why it’s created is something that all of us should know. If you are a guest with a disability or a wheelchair user, this piece of information will be of great help for you. We can also use this knowledge to help people. Find out more about hotel rooms.