Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hotels and the ADA: Information for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Travelers

If you are traveling this holiday season and will be staying in a hotel, you may want to be aware of what services a hotel is required to provide you by law. According to the U.S. Department of Justice,

"Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), hotels and motels must provide effective means of communications for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing to ensure that they have an equal opportunity to enjoy the goods, services, accomodations, and amenities offered."
  • TTY: A hotel must provide a TTY on request for use in guest rooms. Per the U.S. Department of Justice guidelines, a hotel needs to have a TTY at the front desk and have trained desk staff in handling TTY equipment.

  • Closed Captioning: These guidelines also specifically mention having closed captioning available for guest room televisions. But be aware that they don't specify a need for staff to be trained on accessing this equipment feature.

  • Visual alarms connected to the building's emergency alarm system: Only required to be present in a certain percentage of guest rooms. Be sure to ask for this when placing your reservation.

  • Visual notification devices for alerting deaf and hard of hearing guests to incoming telephone calls and door knocks/doorbells. Again this is required only for a certain percentage of guest rooms. Presumably they would be available in the rooms with the visual alarms, but it would be a good idea to discuss this as well when placing your reservation.

The information in this blog post comes from the ADA Business Brief: Communicating with Guests who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hotels, Motels, and Other Places of Transient Lodging which can be accessed on the web through this link. Further information on the ADA is available at the U.S. Government's ADA website.

If you find yourself not accomodated at any hotel, you have the right to file a formal complaint following the guidelines stated here.

Thank you to Danielle who provided me with this information so I could be a more informed and better accomodated traveler.

Wishing all of you safe travels this holiday season!


Jonathan said...

Have you actually experienced getting all of these accommodations provided to you at one of yours hotel stays?

I have only experienced it once. It was last October when I stayed at a hotel where, when the staff at the desk found out that I was deaf, I was given a room that came with a visible fire alarm along with a tv with closed captioning (which is pretty much standard these days). I was jazzed by the fact that there was a room with a visible fire alarm.

kim said...

WOW-- I could have used this information a couple years ago when a hotel mgr. told me the law only required him to provide captioned televisions, but didn't require his hotel to know how to operate them. This was after three nights of trying to get the darned thing to work. A handyman came up all three nights to try and help us figure their new HDTV's. I wrote to the Hilton business office after that, but never received a response. It's very clear that hotel but never received a response. I had that business brief but not the info on who in the state gov't to complain to. Thanks so much for posting this!!

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Jonathan,
No, I haven't. But I haven't known to ask for them either. I'm glad to hear about your positive experience.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Kim,
Danielle gave me this information after I told her about my stay at a hotel with a TV remote in the room that didn't give access to the CC option. I was frustrated but as I didn't request assistance from the hotel staff, I didn't follow up on the matter any further.
Danielle also had a negative experience with the Hilton. You can read about it here. I'm glad you found the information helpful.

kim said...

I knew about the requirements as I was part of the SayWhatClub convention planning committee here in Seattle back in 2002. It was an eye-opener when the president and co-president let it be known in no uncertain terms that the convention hotel needed accommodated rooms for about 100 people! Normally hotels stock only a couple 'ada kits' for people with hearing loss due to the low demand. After the concierge said they didn't have enough to go around, it was suggested they would have to borrow from other hotels in the area-- which apparently isn't unusual. So I've known for a long time what hotels must provide, but I haven't known how to follow up on it when they don't. I am aware that it is considered a courtesy to let them know in advance that you expect an ADA kit, rather than waiting until you check in. One of the ladies in our club believes we should go further than that and demand it all be set up.

I feel the TTY requirements are a bit outdated since few people use those anymore. We usually ask for computer access. You can make an IP call with that.

sara said...

I always ask for a room with a visible fire alarm... usually they don't have a clue what I'm talking about or they say all the rooms have them and they don't. The only times I've gotten a visible alarm was when I was put in a 'handicapped' room with wheelchair accessible everything.

Glenice said...

Thank you for posting this Sarah.

The one time I remembered to ask about services, I was in Canada on a trip with my husband. They did offer to change our room - but - the room they were offering covered all disabilities. It was a room with handrails and wheelchair accessible shower (no tub), etc. We were in a five star hotel and truthfully, we did not want to stay in a room like that. Since I was with my hearing husband, we decided we could do without the visual aids.

If I ever do stay in a hotel without the husband, I will probably pack my portable strobe light smoke alarm if I don't want to stay in a fully accessible room with items mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

See also and

Rosaline Crawford
Director, NAD Law and Advocacy Center

Claire Presland said...

If you are ever visiting Great Britain or Ireland, get in contact with us (Deaf Alerter plc)and we'll let you know which hotels etc have our equipment in them. We have a fire alarm system for Deaf and hard of hearing people. Our radio-based system means that you don't have to stay in the disabled room, but can be allocated any room in the hotel.

Megan said...

Thank you for this post! Very informative & interesting. I passed it along (with a link back) at my blog post here: