The gym, which I wanted to use, which is important for me to use when I travel, was completely inaccessible. It was beautiful, but I could only get on a landing that lead to stairs, lots of stairs, in every direction. It had clearly been renovated, it was packed with equipment, but the idea of access must have been given a pass because there was simply no way I could get in, there was no second entrance, all I could do was watch others do what I wanted to do myself.
The business center, which I wanted to use to print some documents for the lecture the next day, was inaccessible. I had been in this hotel in the past and the old center was fully accessible but the new renovated one was not. There was no way a person using any kind of mobility device would have been able to negotiate that space. They had had an accessible space and renovated the accessibility away.
The manager was trying to listen to me talk to him about these things and he did the ‘it’s an old building’ but I stopped that quick because, while it might have been an old building the former business center was renovated to become inaccessible … that’s moving towards, not away from, exclusion. The gym had clearly been renovated, the building was old but none of these inaccessible items were.
I asked him why the hotel’s website didn’t warn disabled travelers that the hotel didn’t offer full services to people with disabilities. And then, here’s where he began to laugh, I said, “Why am I paying full price for a room in a hotel where I have fewer options than non-disabled people? Why should disabled people foot the bill for non-disabled people? We buy the space and they get the use of it.” He found that hilarious.
I wasn’t laughing.
It ended with him saying (can you predict?) that he would take my concerns to senior management and they would all talk about it.
Now, seriously this is true, I started laughin.