Dear Editor,

In the past few years my wife and I have tried to do some traveling. We bought a van that my hoyer lift could fit in. We would make reservations where we were guaranteed handicap accessible rooms. We have found that the motels do not know what is needed to qualify for wheelchair accessible. Not all rooms would have roll in showers even when promised and much to our chagrin all rooms have beds that sit on platforms and there is no way to get a hoyer lift under them. So our traveling has been a disappointment. What can be done to let the hotel and motel chains know exactly what a roll in shower is and what is needed for a room to be handicap accessible? -Dave Herrick

Unfortunately, this is a problem many run into. Despite good intentions and the ADA, it is not simply enough to request an accessible room. When making your reservations with a hotel you really need to ask specific questions such as if your room will have a roll-in shower; are light switches lowered; are toilet seats raised; are there grab bars in the shower and next to the toilet; how many beds are in the room and if they’re on platforms or legs.

Once you do have these questions answered to your satisfaction, get all of it confirmed in writing so that you have proof when you actually check in. It may seem unfair and a lot of extra effort, but it will save you hassles in the long run.

The issue of the hoyer lift and hotel accessibility is a particularly tough one. I, personally, use a sliding board transfer so a low to the floor, platform bed is better for my situation, while you require a bed on legs with ground clearance. It would be ideal if hotels had a choice of bed types, but most don’t, so accessibility at each is functionally different. The most you can do is inquire before-hand and hope you’re getting the straight story.