Planning a trip to a faraway town, another country, or perhaps you’re doing a city break close-by? Chances are, you’ll be staying in a hotel. Today our blind accessibility assessor, Alan, takes us through the trials and tribulations of stopping in a hotel.
Physical Trip at a Hotel
Now I know there is always someone, somewhere who does not have a good experience when staying in a hotel. Some of the comments may include the room’s cleanliness, the noise, or the food.
The problems that disabled people experience are typically around inaccessibility, and in my opinion, they easily resolved.
Lack of Knowledge
A story I recently read talked about t a wheelchair user was not able to get into the bed as it was too high. When he asked the reception, they said that the bed was the bed and did not know anything else. However, the bed could actually be lowered as they found out from the manager.
You can read the full story here: https://www.unitedspinal.org/wheelchair-accessible-hotel-room/#content
I heard a similar story when attending an equality and diversity course here at Shaw Trust. The trainer, who needed a hoist to assist them into bed, had the hoist, but the legs would not go under the bed. On enquiring at reception, he was advised they could not do anything about it. But again, it was lack of education that was the barrier and not the height of the bed. A manager said that there were some blocks that can adjust the height of the bed that were kept in the cupboard. As a result, the person could go to bed.
Now as I said, the hotel room was not inaccessible. It was the staff members knowledge that needed improving to remove the barrier.
Inaccessible by Design
A funny reflection on accessible rooms, as this is what they are called now. My wife and I stayed in a room, which had a wet room for the shower and handrails which allowed a wheelchair user to get from the door and around to the bathroom.
To achieve this, the hotel had pushed the double bed up to the side of the wall. As a result, I had to get in by the foot of the bed. Now I know the wording is ‘make reasonable adjustment’ but thought this is a bit far, just to say that they catered for everyone; surely, there could have been a better design.
Equality Laws – a Breach?
There are rules/laws of equality, but these are not always adhered to and difficult to use. For example; My wife and I wanted to book a seaside hotel for her birthday. I am blind, my wife is not, so we wanted a sea view. We went through the booking process on the phone. When we got to the end of the booking my wife then asked about disabled parking and explained that I would be bringing my guide dog.
On hearing this, the receptionist stated that we could not book the rooms with a guide dog. However, we could have one of the standard rooms. We asked why and the answer was: someone who is allergic to dogs may stay in them and they have just been redecorated. Now I feel sorry for people who have a dog allergy, but after a room has been stayed in (guide dog or not) the room should be thoroughly cleaned by housekeeping. This should prevent any allergic reactions and should not be a reason to decline disabled people.
My wife would not let me speak to them as I was getting a little annoyed. I was going to say: “are you only allowed to eat peanuts in the standard room just in case someone who is allergic to nuts stays?” Alternatively, “are you going to upgrade people who are allergic to dogs, as a dog may have stayed in the standard room so have the first-class room?”
I wish I had the nerve to book the room and not tell them of my circumstances and then stand at the desk to put my CASE forward. Still, like lots of disabled people, we do not want a face-to-face discussion on our disabilities in public.
Training, Knowledge, and Laws
These and many more stories of disabled people struggling to put their head down for the night could be removed by simple actions from staff, with training on what the hotel offers and laws. As these are not like a hotel where all the rooms are on a upper level and there is no lift, or a small b and b, as I am sure that people with a disability knows the extent of reality.
We have the equality act, but would you really want to stay in a hotel with equality at the bottom of their list of priorities. Saying that I suppose, unless we make a stand, then is it going to get better.
Staying in a Hotel – Digital Tip
There are many websites where you can get the best deal for your hotel. However, trying to look at all the comparisons if there were twenty results and the list went with twenty names of hotels, then another list below with a grade of room, followed by price etc. you would not be able to make a comparison. This happens when a person who is visually impaired and has to use a Screen reading Software, if the table used is not formatted correctly, putting them in a disadvantage. Inaccessible features are found when assessing websites at Accessibility Services.