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Guide to Serving Hotel Guests with Disabilities

General Etiquette

Identify yourself and others who may be with you when interacting with a person who is blind or has low vision.

Identify the person to whom you are speaking especially when conversing in a group.

Speak directly to a person with a disability rather than through a companion or sign language interpreter.

Offer to shake hands. People with limited hand use or who wear an artificial limb can usually shake hands (Shaking hands with the left hand is an acceptable greeting.).

Wait until an offer of assistance is accepted, then listen to or ask for instructions of how to help. Ask questions of the individual you are assisting when you are unsure of what to do.

Treat adults as adults. Address people who have disabilities by their first names if extending the same familiarity to others.

Remember that service animals are working, and you should not interact with them as you would with a pet.

Listen attentively when you're talking with a person who has difficult speaking. Be patient and wait for the person to finish; ask questions that require short answers; repeat what you have understood and allow the person to respond.

Refrain from interrupting a person with speech impairment or finishing their sentences. Be patient and let them complete their idea or request without interruption.

A person who uses a wheelchair often considers his or her chair as part of their body space. Refrain from leaning on or moving their chair without permission.

Place yourself at eye level with a person who uses a wheelchair or crutches to facilitate communication.

Tap a person who is deaf on the shoulder or wave your hand to get their attention; speak directly to them without raising your voice; keep hands and cigarettes away from your mouth.

Be sensitive to people who lip-read by facing the light source and keep hands, cigarettes or food away from your mouth when speaking.

Relax. Feel free to use accepted, common expressions such as "See you later," or "Did you hear about that?"

Refrain from asking a person how they acquired their disability. It is not their job to educate you.

Guest Assistance

Check to see that the accessible path of travel from the parking space to all accessible features is unobstructed by construction, furniture etc.

Move obstructions that block the path of travel -- re-evaluate as the hotel becomes more crowded.

Be informed about your accessible rooms, make sure of details such as roll-in showers, bath benches, and inspect features regularly to be sure they are in good repair.

If your hotel provides accommodations for persons who are deaf, such as a TTY machine, make sure where the equipment is kept. Some hotels store them with maintenance facility location (items may include doorbell lights, TTY devices, etc.).

Know if your television can receive captioning and advertise this on your web site.

Assist persons with visual impairments to sign registration information by placing a card or signature guide along the line.

Allow persons with visual impairments to take your arm when assisting them to a new location.

Orient individuals to guest room features by detailed verbal instructions. If they continue to have difficulty, ask if they would like you to "show" them using their hands. Be sure to release their hands periodically so they can "explore" the lay-out of the feature. (items they may want described include thermostats, lay-out of room, remote controls, hotel telephones, etc.)

Card keys should provide tactile information so the user who is blind can determine which end of the face of the card should be inserted into the lock.

Doorplates with raised numbers and Braille help guests find their rooms.

Guests who are blind may ask you to orient them to the exercise facility.
Links to Additional Resources

Learning about Blindness; Quality Hotel Customer Service

One Stop Manual

Analysis of Hotel/Motel Usage by and Needs of Travelers with Disabilities

Breaking Down Barriers: Achieving Great Service for Guests with Disabilities

Americans with Disabilities Act; Title III, Making Your Restaurant Accessible for People with Disabilities

Source: Adapted from material provided by The Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities, P. O. Box 12428, Austin, Texas 78711 / 512-463-5739; Dial 711 for Relay Services

Council for Disability Rights

Knowing your rights is the easy part. Exercising them can be a bit trickier.

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