Room at the Inn: ADA Considerations for Places of Lodging

Published October 21, 2020

As places of public accommodation, hotels, inns, motels and other facilities offering sleeping rooms for short-term stays are required to provide accessible lodging options for people with disabilities. To make it easier for people with disabilities and other accessibility needs to travel, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that accessible rooms be "dispersed among the various classes of guest rooms" and requires hotels to provide people with disabilities "choices of types of guest rooms, number of beds and other amenities comparable to the choices provided to other guests."

ADA compliance in lodging is more than simply providing an accessible room that follows the ADA technical standards, however. Accessibility must be included in all aspects of the traveler’s experience, from reservations to checkout.

Here are steps that owners of hotels, motels, inns and other types of lodging can take to improve accessibility

Before the stay

  • On websites, brochures and other materials, identify and describe the accessible features of the property in enough detail to enable an individual to decide if the facility will meet his or her needs.
  • Do not require guests to take extra steps to reserve an accessible guest room. Ensure that people with disabilities are able to make reservations for accessible guest rooms in the same ways any guest can make a reservation: by telephone, in person, using e-mail and electronically via websites and apps.
  • Ensure accessibility for your website and those of third-party booking sites. This allows potential guests with disabilities to price-shop for the best rate instead of being cut off from deals (and therefore reservations) on a non-accessible website.
  • When a reservation is made for an accessible guest room, remove that room from the reservation system so that it cannot be assigned to a different customer.
  • Train your staff on all accessibility features of the property, so they are able to confidently respond to specific inquiries about accessible routes, the configuration and features of accessible rooms and common spaces and the availability of accessible equipment such as visual alarm devices for guests who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
  • Train staff on the use of respectful language and practices for guests with disabilities.

During the stay

  • Ensure that ADA technical standards are met for accessibility, including doorway width, bed height, shower seat design and placement, maneuverable space in the room, availability of ample electrical outlets for medical and/or accessibility devices and working visual notification devices.
  • Provide information on safe, accessible spaces for toileting and watering service animals.
  • Train staff on troubleshooting accessibility questions guests may have such as "How do I turn on closed-captions on my television?"
  • Provide large-print options for all reading materials offered in a guest room, including room service menus, emergency evacuation instructions, city guides and TV channel listings.
  • If your hotel provides meeting or event space, ensure that accessibility features are in place, including assistive listening devices, clear signage, well-lit meeting space and corridors and barrier-free pathways.

At check-out

  • Make it easy for guests to return loaner equipment, such as bed-shaker alarm clocks or power door assist devices, at the end of their stay.
  • Do not charge guests for services out of their control, such as valet parking charges for parking in a handicapped space.
  • If a receipt is e-mailed to the guest after the stay, ensure the e-mail format is compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.