The Accessible Cabin That Wasn’t


My suitcase just squeeked through the narrow bedroom door

People often ask me why I travel around the world just to look at accessible rooms, cabins, campsites and all other assorted types of lodging options. “After all” they usually say, “Everything is accessible today – it’s the law.” And granted we are light years ahead in accessibility as compared to pre-ADA times, but there are still places out there that are sorely lacking in access. And what’s even worse is that they are promoting some of those properties as accessible, or in their words “ADA compliant”.

So since I just returned from a six-week road trip, I thought I’d share one of those “accessible” properties with you. So, in my best Rod Sterling voice, I submit to you dear reader, “The Accessible Cabin That Wasn’t”.

The location and the property name are not important, but what is important is that this rustic cabin was billed as “wheelchair-accessible with a roll-in shower”.

A steep ramp with a raised threshold makes this property a challenge

A steep ramp with a raised threshold makes this property a challenge

Granted it has a ramp, albeit a steep one, but in order to get to it you have to traverse a parking lot littered with large gravel chunks and then cross a short uneven flagstone path. Once you get to the front door – which is 36-inches wide – there is a three-inch step at the threshold. There is an alternate entrance through the screen porch, but that threshold is five-inches high. Sure, some people could manage these obstacles, and if they were the only ones, I’d probably still think about covering the property, with an admonition to my readers, of course.

But – as the Ginsu Knife hawkers say – “There’s more!”

Once you enter the cabin, you can access the living room and the kitchen in a wheelchair, however if you want to get into the bedroom you have to squeeze through the 21-inch doorway. You’d also have to have someone move the bed if you want to get all the way into the room. My 19-inch wide suitcase just cleared the doorway, but I couldn’t manage the turn inside the room without shoving the bed out of the way.

Only 15 inches of clear space between the toilet and the sink

Only 15 inches of clear space between the toilet and the sink

And then there was the bathroom. It also has a 21-inch wide doorway, and if by some miracle you can navigate that, you also have to be able to shimmy through the 15 inches of clearance space between the toilet and the sink to even get to the shower. And it’s not a roll-in shower, but a low step (five-inch) shower that’s 27-inches deep and 32-inches wide.

So there you have it. The Accessible Cabin that Wasn’t.

To be fair, I had my doubts about the access of the cabin from the get-go, even though I was told time and time again that it was wheelchair-accessible with a roll-in shower. Perhaps it was the tone of the reservationist’s voice, or the location of the cabin, or even the lack of photos online that clued me into this possible access misstep. Regardless I decided to check it out anyway and let the chips fall as they may. And the chips fell all over the place.

So I offer up this little tale as a “buyer beware” warning of sorts. If you ever get that little “Spidey Sense” that something might not be as accessible as it’s touted, go with your gut.  Chances are you are right, and in the long run it will save you a lot of time and trouble.