Two hotel employees struggling to open the door to a guest's accessible hotel room


A few days ago, Sheryl and I had a brief out of town trip that required an overnight stay.  Of course, we carefully selected our hotel, relying on brands we like and comparing prices and locations.  The result was what we thought would be the perfect place.  After all, it was just one night, and if we made a mistake, we figured we could live with it.

ADA accessible or "handicapped"?

When we arrived, it was clear that the property was older than we expected, but it was okay.  When we checked in, the young lady was pleasant and overworked, as she was running a pizza reception for the guests and the front desk at check-in time.   I do not know how she was doing both, but I guess it was alright; she had our room and told us where to go (in a nice way) and off we went.

The hotel's lack of accessibility

I was surprised that the assigned room had a large sign near the door that was labeled handicapped.  I think the sign was there to give me comfort.  It did not.  I would have thought the signage would say ADA Accessible or something similar.  Instead, it said “handicapped.”  I did not know if the room was accessible or if it had a handicap?  Maybe the heat only works half the time? Perhaps the room needs hearing aids?  Oh, I could go on and on, but it was clear even before we entered the room this was going to be a struggle.

There were a lot of challenges

The door itself was so tight it required that one give a full body push to get the thing open.  It was so tricky that Sheryl almost needed help opening the door.  I did not ask for an accessible room, and I could only hope we were the last guests to check-in that day.  But I doubt it.

The room was so packed with furniture that no person in a wheelchair could ever maneuver inside.  I had difficulty just getting to the windows to close the curtains.  The TV was located in front of the thermostat about mid-way up on the wall and the bed occupied so much of the floor space that a person in a wheelchair could never go around it.

The shower required the skills of an Olympic high jumper to get over the edge, where one encountered a fixed shower head at standard height.  Also, the bar of soap to wash your hands was not provided (that required a trip to the front desk).

Some accommodations were helpful

There were some good things.  The room had an abundance of grab bars.  Grab bars were provided all around the shower and around the toilet.  The room was one of those two-room suite arrangements with a small kitchenette, and the sink had a sloped recess so a person in a wheelchair could at least get close to the faucet.  Which would have come in handy except all the glasses, and pans were in the upper cabinets.  So once again, the Olympic high jumper likely would have been able to get it, but certainly, no one using a wheelchair could get to them without assistance.

The room wasn't ADA compliant

I could go on and on about what this room lacked to make it American with Disability Act compliant, but I would run out of words to describe the issues.  Those of us who do not require ADA protected accommodations were fine, but if one did, the room was a disaster.

I complained about the room both to the nice lady at the front desk and in writing when I wrote my review.  Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990.  That was 19 years ago, even before that the 1973 civil rights act required the elimination of discrimination for public accommodation.   So, this hotel provider has had ample time to figure out a plan that is up to standard.

ADA compliance is beyond grab bards

ADA accommodations require more than just hanging grab bars and posting a sign near the door that says handicapped.  It requires making the accommodations appropriate for those who need assistive devices for movement.  This room shouted accessible in the hallway but offered little in the way of accommodation inside.  That is not alright.  Posting a sign out front is not the same as making a facility genuinely accessible, and we all need to be upset about that.

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