How to make a hotel accessible
This guide is aimed at hotels but it can be used for any type of accommodation such as motels and rest-homes.
To cater to people with disabilities you first need to make sure that people that use wheelchairs can enter your rooms. This is usually not a problem for most hotels but if the rooms have to be entered from the outside you may want to consider having one portable ramp per accessible room. Click here to learn more about portable ramps.
Make sure that your accessible entrance is available 24/7 and people don't have to ring someone to get in. Waiting for people late at night can be an inconvenience.
Most hotels have lifts in my experience. It may be a good idea to look into have talking lifts with Braille on the buttons. This makes lifts accessible to people that experience blindness.
Accessible bathrooms typically have a wet area and hand rails by the toilet. All areas of the unit should also have enough space for wheelchairs to move around.
All public rooms/spaces should be accessible with enough space for wheelchairs to move around. If they have doors it would be a good idea to implement a help system so your staff can be notified when someone needs to enter the area.
Regarding documentation of the items in your hotel including the restaurant you might want to have Braille and/or electronic versions. This assists people that cannot see or turn pages. You might want to include any accessibility information in the welcome packs.
Another thing that you may want to do is to offer plastic straws when they are needed. There are moves to ban them due to the environmental impact but this is not necessarily good for the disability community. If you want to do what is best for the environment and people with different needs it would be wise to only offer them when they are specifically requested.
Training some or all of your staff in sign language can also be a good idea. In addition to this some people cannot talk but they also don't use sign language but you can use Email or SMS to communicate with them.
Having accessible parking and a good area for mobility taxi vans to drop people off are a good idea. Read more about accessible parking.
From my own experience an annoying thing about hotels is the lack of sound proofing. This can be problematic for people that have trouble sleeping or are bothered by sudden noises. Sound proofing can be helpful.
Another unfortunate experience that I have at hotels is the lack of decent internet services and I believe that this is an accessibility issue.When I go away it is a gamble whether the internet will work. I cannot talk and the internet is one of the only ways that I can communicate with the outside world. I cannot ring people. I can use SMS but without the internet I cannot get numbers.
One thing that I cannot work out is since the internet is essential for business and some people even argue that it is a human right; I just don't understand why hotels don't have reliable internet access. Not being able to watch videos from YouTube is one thing but sometimes you cannot load regular sites the majority of the time. There is practically no point in offering internet if it does not work for 95% of your stay.
There are additional problems with accessibility if you have to sign up to a service. I type slowly; sometimes I spent an hour just to get online. I should probably download an auto-fill utility. Even typing a long code can take five to ten minutes. There have been times when I have gotten my assistant to do that. If hotels are going to offer hotel internet services I would encourage a simple code to make things quicker for people with disabilities. Four or five letters should be suitable.
Getting back to general accessibility some hotels offer mobility scooters or wheelchairs for people that need them. You may want to acquire one to three manual wheelchairs or mobility scooters for your clients to use. Wheelchairs are the cheapest option and you can buy a manual wheelchair here
Finally it would be helpful to have knowledge of accessible transport and tours in your area so that your clients can be entertained.
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