This past weekend I traveled, in my capacity as Board Director and Treasurer, with SPARC BC (Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia) to Castlegar, a small town located in southeastern BC. Following the lessons learned from our trip to Victoria a couple of years ago, where I could barely get into the bathroom of my accessible hotel room, the SPARC staff went trough an extensive accessibility checklist when booking the hotel for our group. SPARC was assured by hotel staff that the Sandman Inn was accessible and that the accessible room had the necessary features. Even when checking in on Friday evening, the front desk staff told us there was a grab bar by the toilet.
Because there were a few stairs up to room wing and the elevator, I had to outside and around to another door to get to my room. That wasn’t too bad in the rain, but would have been a real pain with a foot or more of snow! SPARC staff Alla and Emese went with me just in case…
Entering the room…Surprise! No grab bars, no where!
Alla and Emese went back to talk with the front desk lady, who was less than helpful. Then called the hotel manager at home and woke him up. After a brief discussion, he promised to have bars installed the next morning. Meanwhile, I was thankful Mom had taught me to "hang onto the air" when necessary. I managed to do what I had to.
Looking around the accessible room, I noticed more glaring accessibility issues. The shower head was hung at a standing level. There was no way I could have reached it. The taps were knobs, rather than levers, making it difficult, if not impossible, for those with minimal manual dexterity to turn on the water.
A shower bench was provided. Actually, initially, the bench was beside the toilet. According to the front desk lady, I was suppose to use that to help me get onto the toilet. Huh? I guess I’m not disabled enough to figure out how to do that. Alla placed the shower bench in the tub (go figure!), mainly to get it out of the way. With no grab bar in the shower and after my adventure in Vegas, I didn’t chance having a shower. (Shh, don’t tell anyone!)
The sink had plenty of clear space underneath for an individual in a wheelchair to roll under. The tap had a great lever handle. However, an individual with limited or no sensation in his/her legs can easily be burned by the pipes when running hot water. That is why exposed pipes must be wrapped in insulation.
Unlike the bathroom door that had a door knob, the room door had a nice lever handles – levers are much easier to open by individuals with limited hand function. There was even a second peep hole at seated level. (Personally, the lower peep hole has always baffled me. Looking through it, am I suppose to recognize people by their crotch?Anyway, a nice touch.)
But, do you see where the safety lock is? Yes, near the top of the door! I had to stand up to lock the door.
After some assertive advocating by SPARC staff, on my behalf, Room #124 at the Sandman Inn now has one grab bar! Which is a good thing, considering that was the only accessible washroom available during our day long board meeting, but that’s another story.
Thanks SPARC BC!
Accessibility 100 is a series of 100 easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities. This is a community project. Feel free to leave your comments, questions and ideas for future Accessibility 100 posts.
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