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For August 2012:

How does one make hotels more accessible?

This may seem to be a very complicated question but if you take it one step at a time, it may not be as daunting a task as you may think. The thing to remember is this: When creating an accessible hotel, you need to keep the following types of customers in mind:

Seniors, those with physical disabilities, the hard of hearing, the blind and partially sighted, and those with cognitive and learning disabilities. My list of pointers may not cover everything but I believe that it would be a good start for you.

At the entrance to your hotel

  • Make sure that there are ramps for wheelchairs and avoid having too many steps.
  • If possible, create some sort of area where guide dogs can go to the bathroom.
  • Make sure that doors are easy to identify and find, easy to open, and that doorways to the hotel are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, and those with guide dogs.

In the lobby of your hotel

  • Reception counters should be easy to identify and find.
  • The layout should be as simple as possible with plants and other fixtures placed in places that are out of the way. You don't want to have people bumping into objects that are somehow in the way of their path.
  • Walls should be painted in bright colors, elevators easy to find, and entrances to hotel facilities should be easy to find and identify. (Example: restaurants, gyms, etc.)

In the elevator

  • Buttons should be well labeled; in Braille, large print, in tactile form (raised printed numbers).
  • Buttons should be easy to reach and well laid out. You need to have each button easily identifiable.
  • There should be different color lights to help indicate when an elevator is going up or down. A different color for each direction in which the elevator is traveling.
  • Lights that would light up to indicate numbers on the buttons. So that for example when the number 3 is pressed, a light comes on over the number 3 button and goes out when the third floor is reached.
  • A nice to have would be a talking elevator to announce each floor as the elevator stops.
  • Using an indicator to ring twice to indicate that the elevator is going down or once to announce that it is going up is also extremely helpful.

Rooms

  • Corridors leading to rooms should be well lit.
  • Doors to rooms should be painted in bright colors and distinguishable from the walls of the corridor.
  • Room numbers should be written in large print, raised print (tactile form), Braille, and easy to read. They should be placed in a spot that is easy to find both visually and by touch.
  • Key cards should be made easy to use so that those who are blind or partially sighted can know which end should be inserted into the lock.
  • There should be a loud click or a bright light indicator to help tell the person when the lock has been successfully opened.

In the hotel room

  • Rails should be placed around the walls inside tubs and non skid mats placed inside tubs. These rails should be easy to find and access if needed.
  • All lights should be bright and light switches easy to access and find.
  • A nice to have would be to have emergency buttons placed in strategic locations if help is being sought. I could go further to discuss layouts of bathrooms but I am going to put this under the section below.

Training for hotel staff

One thing that helps to make a hotel more accessible is staff who has been trained to lend assistance to customers with disabilities. They should be trained in the rudiments of lending assistance when requests come in for such things as:

  • Reading of documents and room service menus,
  • Setting up of wireless connections,
  • Assistance with the working of the TV,
  • Finding electrical outlets in rooms,
  • Locating hair dryers and distinguishing of the various bottles in bathrooms,
  • Lending assistance to help customers find their way around the hotel.

I hope that this is a good start.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your free lance writer and roving reporter wishing you a terrific day.

For more of my blogs, please visit:
http://www.sterlingcreationsca.blogspot.com,
http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm and
www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com.