Friday, August 12, 2011

“Handicap Accessible” doesn’t always mean accessible

Traveling safely and comfortably are two of the more difficult problems associated with Kennedy’s Disease as it progresses.  For me. I had to retire early because travel became out of the question and my job required a lot of travel.

One thing I found out early on was that many hotels believe a couple of grab bars in the bathroom makes the room “handicap accessible.”  Of course, I wasn’t savvy enough to ask the right questions either.  What I now know is:
  • It is important to find out exactly what the hotel deems accessible.
  • And, for you to explain what your needs are.


There is a good article at “Disaboom” written by Candy Harrington that a friend sent to me the other day.  “Finding an Accessible Room Beyond ADA Compliance” provides a couple of dozen bullet points about what to look for, what to ask, and who to ask.  I recommend that you print the article and refer to it whenever you are considering any travel.

Some Recommendations

I have listed below some of the recommendations mentioned in the article (and some of my comments):
    • Never just ask for an “accessible room.” Instead, list the access features you need.  (i.e., a roll in shower if tubs are no longer safe to step in and out of or an elevated toilet seat)
    • In the U.S., look for hotels constructed after 1992, the date the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect.
    • Always call the hotel directly. On-site reservation agents often have first-hand knowledge about access features at their property.   (if you feel the front desk person does not know the answer, ask for the manager)
    • Ask the reservation agent to describe the access features of the room. Don’t settle for the broad description of “ADA Compliant.” Ask for specific access details.
    ADA Bathroom 
• Many properties have raised toilet seats that can be installed in any bathroom. Accessible toilets are 17-19 inches high, so if you need a higher one, ask about a raised toilet seat.  (or, do as I do and bring a seat riser with you … “tallette”)
• Don’t be afraid to ask for measurements. If door width is a concern, ask for that measurement. Don't forget about interior (bathroom) door width, too.
• If walking any distance is a factor, request a room near the elevator.
• Remember to ask the reservation agent if the accessible room can be blocked for you. If the answer is “no” or “usually,” then find another hotel.
• Bed height is not regulated under the ADA, so make sure to ask for bed measurements. Many properties are replacing their standard mattresses with high pillow-top models.
Travel doesn’t have to be a hardship if you plan ahead and ask the right questions.  Have a good trip!

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