Communication and Respect — Keys to Getting Accessible Services

As the summer travel season revs up, more and more people will be hitting the road — and the airports, and the hotels and the trains. And although it’s frustrating when things go wrong, with the increased travel traffic, there are bound to be a few access glitches along the way. From flight delays to lost hotel reservations, anything is possible.

But don’t let that discourage you from getting out there and enjoying life. Although there are bound to be a few hiccups in your trip; remember, the best way to resolve those problems is by keeping your cool. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you get the accessible services you need when things go awry.

  1. Remember, yelling at a gate agent will NEVER produce positive results. For best results, try and maintain your temper, remain courteous and explain your problem calmly. People that don’t yell are more likely to be upgraded, moved up on the stand-by list or confirmed on the next available flight.
  2. Don’t be defensive with employees who use what you consider to be an inappropriate disability term. They really are trying; and in fact most are constantly afraid that they will use the wrong words. Let’s face it, it doesn’t really matter if a hotel clerk calls your room a “handicapped room”, if it has great accessible features.
  3. Realize that in all likelihood the hotel desk clerk did not take your reservation, so it’s not his or her fault that an accessible room wasn’t blocked for you. Give the clerk time to rectify the problem before loosing your temper. If the matter isn’t solved to your satisfaction, ask to speak to a manager instead of raising your voice.
  4. Listen. Sometimes people don’t understand what you are asking for, so you have to listen to them to find out exactly what they don’t understand.
  5. Don’t threaten to sue or contact the DOJ if your access needs haven’t been met. Instead, try talking with the manager, to see what can be done to prevent it from happening again. If you have been inconvenienced, don’t be afraid to ask for a partial refund or a discount on a future stay.
  6. If you think a customer service person is not understanding your speech, then try writing down your words. Don’t just speak louder, as that can be interpreted as hostile behavior, and it can escalate a situation. Many people just shut down when someone raises their voice at them.
  7. Keep in mind, most customer service employees want to make their guests happy. If a problem pops up, take a deep breath, hold your tongue and let them do their job.
  8. Last but not least, don’t forget to say thank you. It’s common courtesy for everyone, no matter what your disability status.