Accessible Hotels: Common Mistakes

Posted on - Friday, May 1st, 2020

Transient Lodging: Common Mistakes

Being all cooped up at home due to the Covid19, made me nostalgic for traveling and staying at hotels.  So I thought I would dedicate this newsletter to that topic!  After the ADA became a law, people with disabilities were able to also enjoy staying in hotels with friends and family.
As an accessibility specialist, I review and inspect many hotels for ADA compliance.  One of the most common mistakes that I see is that the corporation that owns the hotels has a “standard” that they want to adhere to.  This may be for the type of fixtures they install, or the aesthetic or certain amenities they provide.  Sometimes the “corporation” may not understand the ADA standards and they will select fixtures that are not compliant with the ADA.
as I will explain in the next entry, the showers are not always designed correctly for ADA
Today I will focus on some of those “corporate standards” that I find during my inspections that are not compliant with the ADA or other accessibility standards.

Minimun number of guest rooms with communication features

One of the common mistakes I see is the lack of understanding about guest rooms that must have communication features. These are rooms for people who are hearing impaired or sometimes for guest who are visually impaired.
The table below shows the amount of rooms that are required to be available with communication features:
#ADAFact:  At least one guest room (but no more than 10%)  is required to provide  both mobility features and communication features as described in the 2010 ADA
That means that you can’t have all your guest rooms with communication features in the mobility rooms.  But you are required to provide at least one of the rooms with both communication and mobility features.
In the 1991 ADAAG this was not required and some establishments made all the rooms with communication features the same as the rooms with mobility features.  Communication features must be available as soon as the guest arrives.  It is no longer allowed to have a device at the front desk for the guest’s to request.
The drawing above shows some examples of communication features


this is a hard wired notification device for the hearing impaired.
There typically is more communication rooms required than mobility rooms, and therefore some would be exclusively rooms with communication features.  Designers must be careful to make sure that they are providing 90% of the rooms with communication features without mobility features.

Hand Held Shower Units and Adjustable Rods

In guest rooms that are required to have mobility features, the bathrooms within the room must comply.  One of the common mistakes I see are hand held shower units.  The ADA requires that all accessible showers and tubs have hand held shower units.  The units must be located where  a person in a wheelchair or other mobility devices can reach it and use it.
this is a roll in shower and the hand held unit and control are within 27_ from the seat wall
In a roll in shower it must be no farther than 27″ from the seat wall.  In a transfer shower it is located right in front of the seat and in a tub it is located at the control wall.
in the tub the hand held shower unit is at the control wall
this is a transfer shower and the hand held device is also at the control wall
One thing that gets missed is the fact that the hand held shower unit MUST have an on/off control with a non-positive shut off directly on the unit.  Most of the ones I see installed, have different spray settings, but no on/off control.
this hand held unit only controls the spray but it does not turn off the shower unit when being held
This unit has the on/off controls on the unit
A non-positive shut off is also required.  What that means is that if a person who is using the shower unit needs to turn it off, the water will not be completely off but will trickle a bit.  This will prevent the pressure to be built up and will not over spray once it gets turned back on.

Wish you were here…..

Pools, fitness rooms, guest laundry, saunas, golf or any other sports, lobby, restaurants, bars, reception desks all must be accessible.  I will devote another newsletter for those specifically….but for now, enjoy the nice images and imagine you are all there!  Stay safe!

Some Resources I used for this Newsletter:

I found this very interesting website for people with disabilities who travel.   The Wheelchair Travel: The Good and Bad of ADA Hotel Bathrooms