In a complete reversal of tone from yesterday ...
We arrived at the Marriott Baltimore Inner Harbour where we will be attending a conference over the next couple of days. Everything went smoothly, the car was parked, the registration went flawlessly and then we were being helped up to our room by the bellman. We got to the room first, came in and were immediately WOWed.
I've been called paranoid for mentioning this on my blog but Joe and I travel a lot and stay in a lot of hotels. We have noticed that, if there was a view to be had (which isn't true in a lot of hotels), the accessible room didn't have it. We have seen kitchen fans and parking lots and walls six inches away - we've even been in rooms with no windows at all. We haven't kept data but this is true over 90 percent of the time. If you don't believe me - ask Joe when I'm not around. He'll tell you the same thing. In fact, I think he was the first to notice this fact.
Back to the point, the room has an amazing and spectacular view. In fact I imagine it's one of the best in the hotel. We look right over the Constellation and have a wonderful view of the bay. Just as we were noticing this, Derrek, the bellman arrived. He chatted with us about the room and asked if we had any questions. We did. We were looking for a pharmacy and he gave us directions to one a few blocks away. I didn't have much hope that he'd know but I asked anyway, "Do you know if it's wheelchair accessible." He thought for a moment and then said, "Yes, I'm sure it is."
He gave us directions telling us that the right side of the street, heading up to the pharmacy was wheelchair accessible with cut curbs all the way and that the left side of the street wasn't accessible with a couple of spots where there was no access from sidewalk to street. I was astounded. I've never had any luck EVER with getting this information from a hotel - EVER. The best I've gotten was once someone said, "Yes, it's accessible there's only one or two steps." But this guy ... amazing.
So we headed out. And sure enough the right side was accessible and the left side wasn't. And yes, the store was completely accessible. Man. WOW.
I got back to the hotel.
I called the manager.
I wanted her to know about how incredible this experience was.
In fact I think she was mostly relieved that she wasn't calling back, prompted by my voicemail message requesting to speak to her, to a complaint.
I remember once, chatting with an older fellow with a disability in Scotland, who warned me to resist the urge to feel grateful for what should be expected ... I understand what he's saying.
But this was unexpected ... and I do feel grateful.
I'm glad you had this great experience!
It reminds me that I recently wrote to my local council to ask for a cut kerb to be installed on a local street. All the other crossings on the same street have one, but this missing one makes the whole journey unmanageable.
They wrote back to tell me it would be considered when there was some money in the budget.
They also pointed out to me that the correct and "official" term for what I'd called 'disabled access lowered kerbs' to be as clear as I could, is 'pram crossings'.
Can I be bothered to fight this battle?
I love when you have really positive experiences like this, but it always makes me wonder ... What is the difference? is it the person? Has he had some personal experience with disability or is he just a better human? Is it the company itself? Do they have a top-down attitude that permeates their entire organization? If only we could bottle it ...
Good thing you did not stay at the Marriott a mile or two away next to Camden Yards. That Marriott is an access nightmare. Parking is difficult at best and not ADA compliant. Staff is indifferent at best. Accessible rooms are small and poorly designed. Forget about a view. This highlights the hit and miss typified by the ADA. How can the same chain be so different mere miles apart. And yes, the Marriott you stayed at is very good.
This is great! But my first thought was, Dave is only three hours away from me! I could jump in my car and meet him! (I'm at work, and my boss wouldn't appreciate that. Plus, I don't want to be arrested for stalking. :-) Still, it was nice to hear you describe an area I am familiar with.)
Sometimes the most frustrating challenge in trying to find accessible services is simply trying to find INFORMATION about what is and isn't available where. For example, captioned movies for deaf people continue to be too infrequent and rare in many parts of the US (though it is now becoming more common in certain cities). But even when available, deaf people didn't always know until the captioned showing of a film they wanted had already come and gone. Today, we have http://captionfish.com which is an online website that deaf people can use to find accessible films at theaters close to them, but this did not exist in the past.
But if you want to go to a play or other live performance, it can be a huge headache to investigate on exactly what dates a sign interpreter will be provided--if one will be provided at all. There is no equivalent service to captionfish.com for interpreted plays. If you call the same number that everyone else is supposed to use to reserve tickets and try to ask about interpreters, the front line staff usually have no clue what you're talking about and either just don't help or refer you to something they hope will help that actually doesn't. And the website doesn't always have this information immediately available either. They might not bother to mention sign interpretation on the web site until the season is half over and most of the tickets have already been sold.
I, too, wish it were easier to find info on accessibility. The lack of easily located public information about accessibility is in and of itself a huge barrier to full participation in society.
I am very impressed with the person who knew not only that the place you were going to was accessible but even which sidewalk you would need to take on the route there!
Funny. I didn't see your request for brunch places until it was too late but that's where I was going to suggest. I use my scooter to get around and one of the reasons I like to stay at Marriotts is that they are always very helpful and accessible. And yes, the view is incredible.
Yesterday, "Anonymous" wrote about Planat. This is an initiative of the Rick Hansen Foundation and appears to be worldwide. I found it after going on a trip with my husband and a friend who uses a wheelchair from Alberta to Southern Ontario. We had so many good experiences with accessibility (lots of thanks to you Dave, for sharing your experiences so thoughtfully, thus letting us know what to watch for!) and sadly, we also had a lot of negative experiences.
Our friend and ourselves discussed finding a way to put the information to good use for others, even if it meant setting up a website of our own to do so! My first order of business was to do a thorough search to see if this was already being done well, and that is how I found Planat. I vowed then to share my experiences, but life got in the way (I fell and broke my arm, developed a cataract, grandchildren visiting, two daughters getting married two weeks apart...it's been one of those years!) so had not got around to it.
The posting yesterday reminded me, and I have been busy putting my input on the site in the way of reviews of the various venues. I encourage everyone to add to the database there with all experiences, good/bad/indifferent and mobility/vision/hearing related. Yep, they cover vision and hearing as well!
The link again is www.planat.com
I was visualizing the whole scenario, and it was great. Congratulations for such a wonderful experience.
No reason a job well done not be noted
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