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Timeshare Vacation Travel with a Disability

Introduction to the American Disabilities Act

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) became effective in January 1992. The ADA provides people with disabilities with basic public accommodation rights and the means to enforce those rights. Hotels, motels, timeshare resorts and other places accommodating the general public must meet specific technical requirements in providing lodging and services to meet the needs of the disabled. Many of the 50 million people with disabilities can now find commercial lodgings tailored to meet their needs when they travel. This page provides basic information on traveling and timesharing in light of the ADA and the attempts of the travel and timeshare industry to provide accommodations designed for the disabled.

Who is Responsible for What and When regarding Disabled Access at a Resort?

Alterations and new construction after Jan 23, 1993 must comply with the accessibility laws. Commercial lodging facilities covered by the ADA's Title III include hotels, motels, inns, boarding houses, dormitories and resorts. Temporary accommodations located within a building that contain no more than 5 rooms for rent and are occupied by the proprietor of the establishment (as the residence) are not covered by the ADA. For example, a small bed and breakfast located within someone's home would not be covered.

Customers with accessibility needs must be offered the same options for sleeping arrangements as other patrons. Room, size, cost, amenities and the number of beds in a room must be comparable to quarters for the non disabled. For lodging owners may chose to make all of their accessible rooms doubles or larger to ensure that all of their guests can housed; however, if a customer requests a single room and the only accessible room available is double, the customer can be charged for a multiple occupancy room.

Resorts/hotels are required to have a minimum number of accessible rooms with roll-in showers [wheelchair accessible], based on a percentage of the total number of rooms at the establishment. In a hotel with 175 rooms, for example, six accessible rooms, two with roll-in showers, must be available. The larger the facility, the more accessible rooms must be provided.

Rules to Travel By if you are Disabled

  • 1. Call as early as possible to make your reservations
  • 2. Reserve carefully. Make sure resort knows exactly what your disability is and what accommodations you will need upon arrival.
  • 3. Ask for an assurance of accommodations and record the name of the person who gave you the assurance. If necessary ask to speak with the reservations manager or general manager.
  • 4. If you have any doubts about dealing with a central reservations service, contact the resort directly.
  • 5. Be assertive, calm and friendly, not angry and abusive.
  • 6. Document, document, document!!

Making a Reservation

This applies to a timeshare resorts and hotels. In order to guarantee a person is provided an accessible room, a resort may have to adopt a policy of keeping a room unoccupied until a person with a disability arrives, assuming the person has properly reserved the room. It is good practice to inform resort personnel of your accessibility needs ahead of time. Making a reservation will not only give you peace of mind, but it will give the resort extra time to prepare a comfortable room. This is not intended to imply that people with disabilities receive preferential treatment. The ADA encourages communication between the customer and the lodging facility. That is why it is so important to contact the resort prior to your arrival to discuss any specific requirements to accommodate your disability. Check ahead of time to see if new construction or alterations have been made since the ADA's specified dates, and inform the resort of your needs.

Resorts do not have to provide special auxiliary aids or services. This might include special equipment such as walkers or wheelchairs. You should plan to bring these items with you when you travel, unless the establishment has assured you ahead of time that they will be available for your use.

Take the Initiative when Traveling

After a long day of travel, a traveler doesn't want to to endure long waits to check in or arguments with check-in personnel unfamiliar with the ADA. Become familiar with the ADA's regulations in advance to help avoid such situations. Don't hesitate to call and educate the resorts as to the laws strictures.

The temperature swings in the shower and the color of the carpeting in the bedroom can't be changed through legislation, but enforcing the ADA rules will make a more worthwhile improvement. You may not only help yourself, but also set a precedent for future vacationers with special needs.

History of the ADA and Travel Lodging

The "Days Inn" Case: The first major legal case testing the "new construction" strictures of the ADA was brought in February 1996 when the Justice Department sued Days Inn and a number its franchisees claiming that at least five of its hotels were not built to provide access for guests with disabilities. The Justice Department press release announcing the suit is a wonderful document which quickly educates the reader as to the extent of the "new construction" coverage of the Act.

For example, quoting from the press release:

Many of the so-called "accessible" rooms have knobs and handles that require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist, so that individuals with limited manual dexterity have difficulty opening guest room doors, locking deadbolts, switching on the lights, and operating the room's heating and air conditioning unit. Shelves, and clothes rods are mounted too high to be reached by an individual using a wheelchair and beds, tables, and additional furniture block access to lamps, curtain rods and other features. Here is a link to a summary of the Days Inn case from the ADA.

Where to get more help and information on the ADA?


Ada regulations for public accomodations and commercial facilities

For the most current and up to date information regarding Timeshare Vacation Travel, please visit the TUG Vacation Travel Forums here for help and advice 24 hours a day, absolutely free!

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