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Only 16 hotels in the UK are fully accessible for disabled people

Hotels are lacking disabled access with are only 16 in the whole of the UK that are fully accessible, according to campaigners.

Disabled guests have been forced to spend the night sleeping in their wheelchairs or unable to go to the toilet due to a lack of a ceiling hoist. A ceiling hoist, which a simple piece of equipment, is needed for disabled guests to get into bed, go to the toilet or have a bath.

Six of the fully accessible hotels found by campaigners were in London, meaning there is a serious lack of facilities throughout the UK to suit the needs of the estimated 250,000 people who need the equipment.

Even in other large UK cities such as Manchester and Birmingham – where the Commonwealth Games were recently held – have just one hotel each known to have a hoist installed. Campaigners are urging for full disabled access requirements, including at least one ceiling hoist for every 100 hotel rooms.

Although the law requires hotels to make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure their rooms and facilities are accessible, these requirements are not defined. This means it gives the hotels the freedom to interpret that in their own way and are often reluctant to spend money on accessibility, according to campaigners.

Ceiling Hoists users Community (CHuC) is a website which keeps an up-to-date list of hotels, in the UK and overseas, that can accommodate those in need to let other ceiling track hoist users know about the new facilities and when more come available.

It’s not just the hotels which cause issues for disabled travellers visiting a new city, but public toilets can also be an issue for those in a wheelchair. Changing Places are public toilets which are larger than a standard accessible WC, and includes specialist equipment, such as a hoist and an adult-sized changing bench.

Similar to the CHuC website, Changing Places also has an online resource where a user can type in the address or tourist landmark to find whether there is a suitable toilet for them or their disabled family member.

Sami Palmer-Latif, personal injury solicitor at Potter Rees Dolan and Secretary of the Merseyside Branch of the Spinal Injuries Association, said:

Disabled travellers, whether for business or leisure, should be able to plan in confidence knowing that their accommodation needs will be properly met at their destination hotel so that they can make use of rooms and facilities safely and with dignity. However, the current dearth in the provision of accessible accommodation in the UK discourages and disempowers them from being able to make such arrangements.

It has been a Buildings Regulations requirement since 1991 for a proportion of rooms in new hotels to be wheelchair accessible and the Equality Act places a duty on hotels to make reasonable adjustments to remove discriminatory barriers, yet too often commercial interests are promoted at the expense of more inclusive design, development and implementation processes. If the nuances of disabled travellers’ needs are better understood, it will help to ensure that what should be integral features of hotels are not overlooked or omitted.

The demand for fully accessible rooms is only going to continue to grow with an increasing population and life expectancy in the coming years yet without an increase in the supply in tandem with this, it is only going to have an exclusionary rather than participatory effect.

Sami Palmer-Latif is a Solicitor in personal injury here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about spinal injury or indeed any other aspect of personal injury and wish to speak to Sami or any other member of the team, please contact us on 0800 027 2557 or contact Sami directly.

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