Sometimes I’m a stickler for terminology, and I know that infuriates no small percentage of my friends. But as a writer, I feel that words – the correct words – are very important. Case and point is an incident that happened at a chain hotel yesterday.
Basically it was a terminology error, made by the manager of the hotel. As you know, chain hotels must now list the accessible features in their “ADA” rooms, and make that information available to potential guests, on-line and via phone. Additionally, when a guest selects a specific accessible room, it must be blocked upon reservation and held for that guest until they arrive.
Well, this particular hotel was doing all of that, except there was a little bit of a problem with what they described as an “ADA Mobility Accessible” room. It was a room with a “walk-in” shower. To be blunt, there is no such animal; however the average guest might assume that this walk-in shower would be a roll-in shower. And they would be dead wrong. This walk-in shower is actually a low-step shower, with no other access features. And that’s something that’s just not usable for most wheelchair-users. It’s also not something that is even considered “accessible” under the ADAAG, so rating the room as “mobility accessible” is very misleading.
The problem is complicated when many well-meaning small innkeepers also describe their roll-in showers as walk-in showers. I’m guessing they just don’t know what to call them. Now even though these (roll-in) showers are nicely accessible, they are still called the same thing (walk-in showers) that this chain hotel calls its not-so-accessible low-step showers. Can you see the problem here?
So what’s a consumer to do? To be honest, the only thing you can do is to ask a lot of questions (maybe even ask for a photo) when someone describes their shower as a walk-in shower. It’s really an unknown entity, so you’re just going to have to double check to make sure you get the access features you need.
Unfortunately it’s not a great solution, but knowing that there is a potential problem out there at least helps a bit. It’s far better to make that extra phone call, then to end up in a room with a shower that you can’t use.
Here’s hoping that we see the quick demise of the term “walk-in shower”. It really doesn’t do anyone any good!