After his motorcycle accident, my husband didn’t think he could ever do many of the things he did before the accident that left him a T-11 complete paraplegic. Stepping out into this unknown world was scary for my husband. On our quest for a new “normal,” my husband and I have done some light travelling. The only way he could become confident in joining society, doing activities together that we enjoyed before his motorcycle accident, is by doing the things he feared.
When booking a hotel or other accommodation, below are 10 questions to ask. They may not all apply to you or your situation, but it is a jumping off point. We learned the hard way that “handicapped accessible” doesn’t always mean what we think it does. The Americans With Disabilities Act covers many disabilities, not just those in wheelchairs. So ask questions relevant to your disability. Then ask again and confirm the answers.
- What is the height of the bed? Many new mattresses have pillow tops adding a few inches. For my husband, the mattress needed to be level with his wheelchair – about 22″ high – for him to transfer. If the mattress is too high, are they willing to remove the box spring? Places we’ve stayed at were very accommodating about doing this.
- Is there enough room on the side of the bed for a wheelchair? This is important if you transfer into bed from your wheelchair. Once, my husband had to sleep on the couch because he couldn’t transfer.
- Are the width of the doors into the room and into the bathroom wide enough?
- Is there a roll-in tub? We’ve stayed in places where you could roll in your wheelchair and places with a lip to the shower. You’d have to transfer into a bath chair. Which brings us to the next question…
- Is there a shower chair to transfer to?
- Can a wheelchair fit next to the toilet? If you transfer onto the commode, it’s important to know this.
- Where is the handicapped parking in relation to your room? In the last place we stayed, the parking was in the back of the hotel. The handicapped entrance was also at the back and our room just around the corner on the first floor. So convenient!
- Is there a first floor room available? Elevators are fine as long as they work!
- Is the building accessible by wheelchair? I got a little scared at the last place we stayed when I saw 5 large steps into the lobby. Their handicapped entrance was around the back of the hotel.
- In a handicap parking spot, if you have a side ramp, is there room to get in and out of the van? We asked the hotel if they would put a cone next to our van to discourage the door being blocked. They were happy to do so.
The more questions you can think to ask for your particular situation, the fewer surprises you’ll have. And I don’t like surprises! After a long drive to get to your destination, the last thing you want is to deal with problems with your accommodations.
Please share in the comments what questions you ask when you travel and what problems you’ve encountered that you’ve solved.
The Italian Grandmama
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