Your Shout: Angus Marshall, founder of Disabled Hotel Access

02 June 2004
Your Shout: Angus Marshall, founder of Disabled Hotel Access
Until 1 October the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) states that where a "physical feature", such as a change in floor level, makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of any aspect of a hotel facility, the hotel operator must provide a reasonable alternative. But after 1 October a hotel owner will be obliged to remove the feature altogether or alter it so that it no longer forms a barrier to that disabled user, representing a far more significant burden and one that should be taken into account by hoteliers throughout the UK. A common misconception is that the DDA applies only to wheelchair users. Under the current definition of disabled, some 11.7 million, or 20%, of adults in the UK could fall within the scope of the act. We recommend carrying out an audit of your hotel facilities as a first step towards satisfying the provisions of the DDA. A minimum 5% allocation of all bedrooms should be suitably accessible to disabled guests. An accessible bedroom is one with a minimum area of 1,500mm x 1,500mm on one side of the bed and en suite bath or shower facilities which allow for independent use by disabled guests. Doors should have a minimum clear width and handles that are easy to grip and operate. For guests with manual dexterity problems, a swipe-card system is often the best solution. Another problem is fire escape areas, often used for the storage of goods and inaccessible to wheelchair users. And conventional fire alarm systems often provide an audible alert only in an alarm situation, which is inadequate for guests who have hearing impediments. One option is to provide under-pillow vibrating pager systems. It's time to wake up to the DDA now. Are you ready for 1 October?
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