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Hotels to become disabled friendly

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: Ministry of Tourism has come out with new guidelines for classification of hotels which also include making all hotels disabled friendly by September, 2010. This not only includes 4 and 5 star hotels which were already accessible to an extent, but also 1, 2 and 3 star hotels.

The guidelines make it mandatory for hotels to have atleast one room for disabled people, at least one accessible unisex toilet in the lobby and access to atleast one restaurant. It also includes ramps with anti slip floors, attached bath and designated parking. The minimum door width of rooms meant for people with disabilities should be one metre to allow wheelchair access. It also states that furniture should be of low height, cupboards should have sliding doors with low clothes hangars. Rooms should also have audible and visible alarm system.

Bathrooms should be wheelchair accessible and with sliding doors, suitable fixtures, low wash basin, low height toilets and hand bars. The disability sector has welcomed this decision as a good beginning but feel that it is yet another piecemeal effort.

Shivani Gupta, Director, AccessAbility was consulted on the guidelines but says that most of her recommendations were not included. “The guidelines do not include all disabilities and are only concerned with wheelchair users.”

She says that room tariffs also include facilities like shopping centres, swimming pools, gym, spas, etc. which are still not accessible to people with disabilities.

Another nagging doubt that the sector has is about implementation and monitoring. “Merely having accessible features is not enough. 4 and 5 star hotels which were supposedly accessible are not usable. We looked at 15 such hotels in the city and though they had accessible features, they were not usable as the design was faulty,” says Gupta.

The government should have a strict monitoring mechanism for this plan to succeed, she feels.

Click here for the guidelines (PDF – 83.9 KB) (PDF file that opens in a new window)