Tag Archives: ada

NOPE!

We’ve never been there, so i am relying on other people’s photos of it, but apparently this is the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico.

I don’t think I’ll be going there anytime soon. Yeah, it’s ramped, but that doesn’t look ADA compliant to me. Helen and I are pretty courageous in our travels, but there are some places on this earth that I really don’t need to visit. This is one of them.


Why won’t hotels invest £140?

In the absence of a worldwide – or even Europe-wide – code of standards, it can be a complete gamble for a wheelchair-user when booking hotel rooms. Often the access rooms are simply ‘wheelchair friendly’ i.e. the door is wide enough to get through and there may be a few grab rails in the bathroom for good measure.

Just this week, I booked a disabled room at the Premier Inn in Brighton. Luckily, I checked the facilities afterwards – just on a hunch – and learned that there is no shower bench. Just ‘ample room’, grab rails and a low bath. When I questioned how a paraplegic was supposed to get in and out of the bath, I was told that the rooms “have all gone through disabled access groups”. This room has been approved by disabled access professionals who have clearly mastered the art of levitation. Possibly too niche a group to be determining what is suitable for the wider population?

We are following this up with the accessibility coordinator at Premier Inn and then possibly via Whitbread HQ.  Watch this space to see how it develops.  I really don’t have the time to follow this up every time we encounter a problem, though.

Why can’t all hotels just follow the US standards, hard-fought, through the Americans with Disability Act?

One of the stipulations there is: “Identify and describe accessible features in the hotels and guest rooms offered through its reservations service in enough detail to reasonably permit individuals with disabilities to assess independently whether a given hotel or guest room meets his or her accessibility needs.”  This is the LEAST that hotels should be doing.  As an example, we were pretty impressed with this document available from the Thistle Hotel in Brighton.

The most common problem we face at hotels is the failure to provide adequate seating in the bath tub or roll-in shower area. They cost about £140!  Much, much less than the price of our planned stay at the Premier Inn. If I were the manager of the Premier Inn in Brighton and I’d had an email from me, complaining about this ridiculous situation, I would have said:  “You are not coming here until October, we have plenty of time to purchase a shower bench, which will be a fantastic investment for other guests who may have special needs too.”  The manager was very professional and very polite but did not take this initiative, sadly.  **(See update below)** So we cancelled the booking and have now opted for the MyHotel which has a shower seat in the wet room.

I could rant for much longer about the poor facilities in other Brighton hotels (including the Holiday Inn which is normally our go-to chain for reliability of suitable adaptations and provision of a shower transfer bench!) but life is short. Stuff to do, innit.

** Update: I have discovered that the manager of the Brighton Premier Inn has in fact enquired about benches with the accessibility co-ordinator.  Everything they buy must be from an approved supplier and authorised by our head office, especially around disabled access rooms.  “This particular issue of seats have never come across before in this hotel and if my head office is happy for us to purchase some, then it would not be a problem (they would in this case recommend us a particular brand and supplier).”  Looking hopeful!


Bring Your Own Shower Seat

As regards to bathing facilities when traveling, I stated in an earlier post: There are four things that I need in order to be able to shower:

  • A roll-in shower, or a bathtub that is low enough to facilitate a transfer.
  • Something solid to sit on.
  • A detachable shower head (on a hose).
  • Grab bars, properly placed in order for me to steady myself during the transfer and as I shower.

I covered the grab-bar solution in that post, and I would consider it the responsibility of the wheelchair traveler to ascertain (by phone!)that the hotel/lodge/resort/etc has a roll in shower or tub, and hopefully their shower head will be on a hose, but I have found through experience that counting on any lodging to provide the wheelchair traveler with proper seating is an iffy proposition at best. Experience has taught me to bring my own seating. Even if I don’t need it, it’s well worth the little bit of space that it takes up in our luggage to have a guaranteed seat for the shower, and I would advise anyone else who cannot stand unassisted to do the same.

Almost every hotel in the US that we have stayed in has provided proper seating, but “proper” can be a little sketchy, even with the ADA . A wheelchair traveler in Europe can be a little less certain that there will be proper seating provided, although the majority of the hotels we have stayed in have fulfilled this need adequately. It’s the minority that I am talking about here, both in the US and abroad that have caused me to adopt a policy of always bringing my own seat, just in case. And there have been several cases where I was very glad that I had.

On more than one instance the seat has been nothing more than a 10-inch square of plastic that folds down in the shower. Even though they’ve been sturdy and capable of supporting my weight, the small surface area of the seat made getting cleaned up a nerve-wracking, back-firmly-pressed-to-the-wall endeavor.

In other instances, the “seat” will be a sunken bench that hooks over the sides of the bathtub, with a good ten-inch drop from the height of my wheelchair seat to the level of the bench. I can’t do a ten-inch hoist back into my chair unassisted, and having to be assisted out of the tub is not the sort of accessible experience that I am hoping for when we travel.

There can be numerous other obstacles that won’t be apparent until the wheelchair traveler actually sees the seat , such as armrests that block a safe transfer or missing rubber feet which cause the seat to slide around dangerously, so even with reassurances from the hotel staff (“Oh yes, we have a shower bench”), it’s a good idea to have your own, just for back up.

The first personal shower seat I got was a folding shower bench. I have never used it because:

A. It’s too wide to fit in our tub, so it’s probably too wide to fit in many hotel tubs.
B. It didn’t fold down flat enough. Even folded as flat as it goes, it takes up a quarter of the depth of our luggage.

So I looked around and found a nice little shower stool with extendable legs that easily detach and re-attach to the stool so that the whole thing lies flat in the bottom of our bag. It’s a little wobbly fully extended, but it’s sturdy and with grab bars close by it’s safe enough for me to relax and enjoy my shower. Plus, it will fit into any tub or shower, and I can count on it being there since I bring it with me wherever we go.

Suitable shower seat

This is the model that I got. I would give it a good recommendation. Use at your own risk. I have no affiliation nor connection with this company in any way.


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