20 Questions to Ask About Accessibility When Choosing Where to Travel
I have been the owner and operator of a bed and breakfast and restaurant for over 17 years. In that time I have received every possible permutation of accessibility question you can conceive of. Whatever your specific needs are, always ask the restaurant or hotel/bed and breakfast if they are able to accommodate you. For the most part, you will find that you aren’t the first person to ask and that the facility will generally do everything they can to accommodate your needs to the best of their abilities.
Please note: While historic properties are not exempt from the ADA, depending upon the age, cost, and degree to which a historic property may need to be reconstructed, some facilities may not be able to meet all of the requirements to become fully ADA accessible and are granted a waiver as such.
Here is a comprehensive list of accessibility questions you can and should ask about before you travel:
1. Is there accessible parking near an accessible entrance that’s specifically designated as such, and if so, where on the property is it located?
2. Are there elevators to the upper floors or any rooms or suites on the first floor?
3. Do any of the rooms/suites have low entry roll-in showers with safety rails and seats?
4. Are shuttle services available to and from the airport or train station locally, and if so, are they equipped with ramps or lifts? How close is the hotel/bed and breakfast to accessible transportation and/or local tourist attractions?
5. If there is a pool on premises, is it equipped with a hydraulic lift?
6. Is the property pet-friendly? Service dogs are legally allowed anywhere but emotional support animals may or may not be. Even a property that lists itself as not pet-friendly may make accommodations for certain emotional support animals.
7. Are the comforters or pillows down feathers or microfiber? If they are down, can substitutes be arranged for allergies?
8. Is the laundry soap utilized fragrance-free? If not, can fragrance-free be requested to accommodate allergies?
9. Are toiletries fragrance-free? If not, can fragrance-free alternatives be arranged?
10. Are there refrigerators in the rooms/suites or is there access to a refrigerator to store temperature-sensitive medication?
11. Is there access to a freezer to store ice packs?
12. Are there electrical outlets or extension cords available on both sides of the bed to plug in a C-PAP machine? Is distilled water available for C-PAP machines?
13. Is there free high-speed Wi-Fi available for use with sleep, mental health, or other health/fitness apps that are needed?
14. Is there free bottled water or filtered water available for taking medications?
15. What snacks or beverages are available for free or for sale on the premises for regulating blood sugar levels?
16. Is the chef able to accommodate dietary needs of any kind safely and without cross contamination? These can include but are not limited to celiac disease, diabetic-safe, keto, low FODMAP, AIP protocol, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, and any combination thereof.
17. What protocols are followed for high sensitivity allergies like peanuts or shellfish where even breathing in the allergen may cause a reaction?
18. Are dairy-free creamers available for coffee or tea? Can they be obtained?
19. Are sugar substitutes available for coffee or tea? Can they be obtained?
20. Is decaf coffee or herbal teas that are caffeine-free available? Can they be obtained?
And anything else you can possibly think of. Honestly, my job as an innkeeper and chef is hospitality and that means doing everything I can to accommodate your needs. And if for any reason there is something that I cannot accommodate, I will be polite and give a reasonable explanation as to why. Please don’t ever feel any shame or guilt for asking. I promise it’s not an inconvenience or something that will be frowned upon. We are used to it and it is our genuine pleasure to take care of you and show you the kindness that you deserve. If a hotel or restaurant balks at any of your inquiries, look elsewhere. They don’t deserve your business.
Getty image by Nikki Meel.