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Ms. Rose

ADA Compliance

2012 Check List: Is Your Property ADA Friendly?

By Clara Rose, President & Creative Director, Creative Alliance

The deadline for compliance to the new ADA laws has come and gone. To the relief of many, the White house issued a 60 day extension that pushed the compliance date for the pool lift requirements back to May 15th, offering extra time to come into compliance on that component.

Some conscientious hospitality properties have taken a proactive approach to the ADA changes and hired an independent firm to conduct an ADA compliance inspection or survey, others have decided to wait and see.
While these new regulations promise positive change for those with different abilities; much more can be done in an effort to offer an ADA Friendly environment for those guests. To that end, a checklist can be helpful; by outlining some steps that can be taken to help ensure a truly ADA friendly property.

Parking and Loading Zones

The need for specialized parking, to accommodate vehicles with lifts and extra space to maneuver, is obvious. Guidelines for part of this requirement can be found in the ADA Standards 4.1.2(5).

Beyond this required access, consider adding the following measures or ADA Friendly features:

  • Additional accessible spaces beyond the requirements
  • Wider parking spaces closest to the entrance
  • Drive up call button for special assistance
  • Valet parking with staff trained to assist

Exterior Routes

Guidelines for part of this requirement can be found in the ADA Standards 4.1.2 & 4.1.3 and speaks to the accessible route into the facility, from parking and loading zones used by those with mobility devices such as wheelchairs. It also covers potential hazards for low vision or blind persons.

Beyond this required access, consider adding the following measures or ADA Friendly features:

  • Be sure routes are free of obstacles that encroach onto walkways
  • Install call buttons or call lights for assistance
  • Offer instructions during reservations for special assistance
  • Post the front desk phone number on the parking sign

Building Entrances & Lobby

All the parking and exterior routes are useless if the building entrance or lobby is not accessible. Guidelines for part of this requirement can be found in the ADA Standards 4.13 & 7.2.

Beyond this required access, consider adding the following measures or ADA Friendly features:

  • A call button at the entrance for assistance or fully automatic doors
  • Remove obstacle between the entrance and Check in counter
  • Offer a registration process that creates eye level interactions for guest using a wheelchair

Interior Routes

The routes between the entrance, check in, restrooms, guestrooms and amenities are all considered interior routes. The pathway taken by all guests as they move about the facility can be full of obstacles for those with different abilities. Guidelines for this requirement can be found in the ADA Standards 4.8, 4.10 & 4.13.

Beyond this required access, consider adding the following measures or ADA Friendly features:

  • Be sure transitions from tile to carpet are level
  • Don't high polish the lobby floor, this is slippery for walkers and canes
  • Move decorative accessories and plants out of pathways
  • Offer large print, Braille or audio information about the layout
  • If payphones or guest phones are available, offer a public TTY/TDDY phone

Public & Common Use Restrooms

Access in a common use restroom is all about reach and radius, for the entrance and use of a toilet and lavatory. Guidelines for this requirement can be found in the ADA Standards 4.13, 4.17, 4.19 & 4.22.

Beyond this required access, consider adding the following measures or ADA Friendly features:

  • Add a fully automatic door opener on the interior
  • Use attached wall trash receptacles instead of a can that takes up floor space
  • Add a call button in ADA accessible stall for emergencies

Interior Signs

All guestrooms, restaurants and food service areas, vending and ice machine areas, ballrooms and meeting rooms, public and employee restrooms, gift shops and retail spaces, mechanical and electrical rooms, stairways, fire exits and areas of rescue assistance, as well as all other guest amenities are required to display signage in raised letters and Braille. Guidelines for this requirement can be found in the ADA Standards 4.1 & 4.30.

Beyond this requirement, consider adding the following measures or ADA Friendly features:

  • An audio brochure about the location of amenities, services and activities
  • Show accessible routes on site maps for all guests
  • Add an educational message about accessibility feature to the in room programming

Food Service Areas

Counter height and turning radius are some of the obstacles for restaurants and other food service locations that were not originally built with ADA compliance in mind. Those guests using a mobility device must be able to gain access, maneuver round other customers and roll under a table. Guidelines for this requirement can be found in the ADA Standards 5.1 -5.5.

Beyond this required access, consider adding the following measures or ADA Friendly features:

  • Offer large print, Braille or audio menus
  • Properly train staff about ADA sensitivity issues and etiquette

General Guestroom & Suite Issues

Even though the majority of guest rooms and suites are not required to be ADA compliant, guest should be able to visit the room of a friend or relative and expect a reasonable level of access to enter the room or bathroom. Guidelines for this requirement can be found in the ADA Standards 9.4.

Beyond this required access, consider adding the following measures or ADA Friendly features:

  • Check with guests about the others in their party, book rooms accordingly
  • Add adjoining rooms to ADA rooms to accommodate extended family or companions

Accessible Guestrooms and Suites

The proper number or types of guestrooms and suites at a facility is dependent on the overall number of available units. Not all of these rooms need to be accessible for mobility devices. For instance, guests with visual or hearing impairments usually have no need of a roll in shower. Mobility issues affect just a fraction of the community of people that are covered by the ADA but their needs represent the largest portion of the ADA Standards. Guidelines for part of this requirement can be found in the ADA Standards 9.1-9.4.

Beyond this required access, consider adding the following measures or ADA Friendly features:

  • Add in room video programming to outline accessibility features on the property
  • Include large print, audio or Braille materials in ADA guestrooms
  • Offer TTY / TDDY phone in ADA guestrooms
  • Velcro the TV changer to a convenient and accessible location

Operating Issues

From an operations point of view, ADA compliance is not difficult. Those with different abilities have the same desire for positive, effective communication with friendly, knowledgeable staff and for the full enjoyment of the property and amenities. Guidelines for operation requirements can be found in the CFR 36.301-36.310.

Beyond this required access, consider adding the following measures or ADA Friendly features:

  • Provide ADA sensitivity training to all staff that comes in contact with guests
  • Provide ADA etiquette training to all staff that comes in contact with guests
  • Have trained staff available to assist with special requests
  • Have communication devices (such as digital translators) available at the front desk
  • Have a friendly service animal policy

Attitude is Everything

According to the Department of justice 18% of Americans are now covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, this represents a significant number of potential guests for the hospitality industry. These revenue producing guests have different abilities and accessibility needs, making ADA compliance a necessity. The prudent path to compliance starts with an ADA Compliance Survey, conducted by an ADA specialist.

While the ADA regulations spell out compliance, not much has been written about being an ADA friendly property. Being ADA friendly is about going beyond compliance and offering access and compassion. It is our vision at ADAF to be instrumental in the endeavor to grant access for guests with different abilities. As we work toward granting complete access, with the full rights and dignity of citizenship, in the name of simple decency and simple justice, we invite you to join us in making a difference.

Clara Rose is the founder of Creative Alliance and co-founder of Nationwide Compliance Alliance. She believes that business success is not accidental, merely the implementation of a sound strategy and the correct tools. Ms. Rose finds great reward in equipping entrepreneurs and business owners with the tools and pieces for business success. As a professional speaker, trainer and author; Clara works with teams to help them create a culture of understanding and sensitivity in the workplace and equips professionals with tools and insights. Additionally, she speaks and writes about the different forms of communication that are an integral part of business life with Customers, Colleagues and Co-workers. Ms. Rose can be contacted at 941-284-8640 or Clara@ClaraRose.com Extended Bio...

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