What Went Wrong?

I just got an e-mail from a friend about a mix-up with her accessible hotel room over the busy holiday weekend. OK, mix-up is far too tame of a word, but it will have to do, as this is a family-friendly blog.

It all started when she and her husband (both power wheelchair-users) parked their van at the hotel where they planned to spend the night. The plan was to do some sightseeing during the day, and then return after check-in time. She had permission from the hotel to do this, and as they were headed out for the day a clerk stopped her to verify that she needed an accessible room.

That’s where the trouble started.

Actually the clerk asked her if she needed an accessible room with an roll-in shower. My friend replied that they did not need the roll-in shower, but they needed an accessible room. Well, somewhere down the line that got translated into “they don’t need an accessible room at all”.

So after a busy day of sightseeing, they returned to find out that the hotel was full and the only room left was a standard (non-accessible room) room that had been reserved for them.

As she tells it, they “made do” with the room. Sure it had wide doorways, but I imagine the bathroom was a challenge.

So what went wrong? Well, she had confirmed the accessible room reservations with the hotel three separate times. That should have been enough. Actually once should have been enough, but accessibility is kind of a belt and suspenders type of thing.

Truth be told, I think she was on the right track until she said she didn’t need a roll-in shower. The bottom line is, some folks in the hospitality industry just don’t get it, as far as access issues are concerned. These are the same folks I expect, that think that all wheelchair-users can walk a few steps, because they once saw someone do that. I guess we kind of have to take that ignorance into account when we make arrangements.

Is that fair? Of course not. It’s not equitable at all. But it is the way things are now. Attitudes and awareness about disability issues are changing, but unfortunately we are in the transition generation.

So what can you take away from all of this?

I guess, if someone asks you if you need an accessible room with a roll-in shower over a busy holiday weekend, just say yes — even if you don’t. It may be the only way you’ll get an accessible room at all.