I’m a wheelchair-user and I travel a lot, so I Iook for certain access features in hotels and motels. I feel my needs are fairly simple. I want a real wheelchair-accessible room; one that has a roll-in shower, not a tub with grab bars. I also need a bed that is 21-inches high or lower. Lately I’ve noticed that I can book an accessible room with a roll-in shower on-line, and actually have the room available for me when I get there. This was not the case many years ago. Did the law change or did the hospitality industry just realize that this was a needed change? Unfortunately I still see nothing on hotel websites about bed heights. When can I expect this to change?
I’m glad you are having an easier time finding the accessible room you need on-line. The changes you have noted took effect on March 15, 2012, when the ADAAG was updated to require US properties to make the following access accommodations:
- Identify and describe the accessible features in their guest rooms and public areas.
- Ensure that guests can reserve accessible rooms in the same manner as non-accessible rooms.
- Hold the accessible guest rooms for use by disabled guests, until all the other guest rooms of that type have been rented.
- Block accessible rooms at the time of booking.
And from what I can see, most properties are complying, and many readers have noted how much easier it is to book an accessible room. That of course is the good news. The bad news (for you at least) is that bed height is not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so it’s not something that hotels are required to report, or even measure. You’re not alone in your need for information though, as many people have specific bed-height requirements. The problem is that some people need low beds, while other people need high beds. The Department of Justice did collect comments on the issue a few years ago, but nothing has been changed in the regulations; and until that happens bed height will continue to be exempt from the ADA.
I also wanted to address your comment about a “real accessible room”. Under the ADA, an accessible guest room can have either a roll-in shower or a tub/shower combination with grab bars. As with bed heights, different people need different accommodations, so never just ask for an “ADA accessible room”. Many people can’t use roll-in showers, so that is why they also have accessible rooms with tub/shower combinations with grab bars.