ADA and Hotel Reservations: The Basics
What are the requirements of hotels, motels, and other places of public lodging under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as it relates to reservation systems?
In 2010, the ADA was amended to include several new requirements. Included in those requirements, were requirements dealing with the reservation systems of hotels and motels. Those new requirements came into effect as of no later than March 15, 2012.
The requirements mandate that hotels and motels make accessible rooms reservable in as easy and convenient in a manner as non-accessible rooms. For this reason, many of you who reserved hotel rooms online may have noticed that there are often accessible options. Indeed, the accessible options must be as clear and obvious when reserving online as are the non-accessible options.
In addition, the hotel reservation systems, including online reservation systems, must provide accessibility information required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, including at a minimum, the type of accessible bathing facility that is within the accessible rooms, which are made available for reservation, as well as the accessible and in accessible features of the hotel common areas.
With respect to the type of accessible bathing facility, the hotel reservation system should indicate whether the accessible room has, for example, a roll in shower, transfer tub, or some other type of accessible bathing facility. These requirements are fundamental to the purposes of the ADA, which seeks to integrate the disabled into the fabric of society and remove barriers which prevented disabled from having access to the same goods and services as the able-bodied.
In addition, hotel common areas should be described. Specifically, issues such as whether there is an accessible entrance at the front of the hotel, weather the reservation counter is accessible, weather facilities such as the gym, restaurant, ballroom, and other such facilities are accessible, and whether there are inaccessible facilities (such as whether there is simply no accessible entrance to the hotel, are all critically important to note on the reservation system website).
The reason for these rules is fairly obvious. If a disabled patron makes a reservation and shows up at a hotel in a foreign city only to discover that he or she cannot shower in the hotel room, that is obviously a very bad situation. Or if a disabled patron comes to the hotel from the airport only to discover that he or she cannot even get through the front door because there is no accessible entrance, that is also a very bad situation, and is exactly the type of situation that the Americans with Disabilities Act is intended and attempting to avoid and prevent.
Owners and operators of hotels and motels should keep abreast of all requirements applicable to their industry, including Americans with Disabilities Act requirements relating to hotel reservations. Doing so will ensure that disabled guests have the same ease and convenience of access as able-bodied guests and will also ensure that the hotel does is not sued for violating these ADA standards. Please feel free to contact us if you need assistance with an Americans With Disabilities Act issue.