Down and Delighted

In Everyone has one, Opinion by Joe Brown

Does something have me down and delighted?

The answer to that question is yes something does have me down and if my story below helps in making changes

, I will be delighted.

If you are a person who uses a patient lift to get into and out of bed my story will be of interest to you. If you use a lift or not, I hope you will read the following so you may better understand and can help to fix an overlooked access problem

Specifically a patient lift hoists a person in a sling out of their wheelchair and over onto the bed. To be able to do this approximately 6 inches of clearance is needed to allow the lift to roll under the bed.

Having been a wheelchair user since 1967, frustration is the word that comes to mind when trying to find a motel or hotel without a bed that is on a pedestal or solid base. Over twenty years ago somebody came up with the GREAT idea that solid base bed frames were the way to go.

Yes, this idea might be convenient for housekeeping and beds don’t get moved around the room or items left under the beds-But and a big But is that this type of frame makes a patient lift useless!

After you try five or six motels looking for a regular bed frame without any luck you are forced to make the best of it and a cot is more than likely your only alternative.

For some reason this access problem is not covered under the ADA (movable objects are not included). This is a vital issue and probably the least expensive to change at a cost being under $50.00. Clearance is needed under the bed to use a lift it’s that simple.

The ADA has opened many doors to the handicapped community, but it sure missed the boat in this case.

When I need to make motel arrangements for a trip using the toll free number, I cannot get a decent answer if the bed is on a regular frame or solid base frame. You are told to call the motel directly. Phone expenses add up when over 10 or 15 calls can be made with no luck.

After explaining the type of bed needed and you finally get the “no problem everything will be fine” answer the big kicker comes when you arrive and the bed is on a solid base. Once we checked in to find the bed not accessible and no room for a cot. Fortunately a handy maintenance worker detached the solid base and put the bed frame on four cinder blocks.

A friend of mine carries 6″ blocks because he and his wife have experienced too many disappointing surprises. I know of instances where a motel 20 miles from a destination had to be used because a closer one did not have an open frame bed. I’m sure some of you can relate to this and have plenty of stories of your own.

I have written many letters only to hit the preverbal brick wall. It is my hope that someday those who make the access laws will recognize this problem and include this in the ADA. I have written to the hotel / motel association with no luck.

On the positive side it must be said that after explaining the problem several motels I contacted agreed to put open frame beds in their physically disabled designated rooms.

It’s not that motels and hotels want to make it inconvenient, it is that they are unaware and there are no laws to guide them.

Fortunately, I know of two states Florida and New Jersey that have recognized the problem and put in their law that motels and hotels must have clearance under the bed for lift type devices. My hat is off to Florida and New Jersey.

Out of curiosity I e-mailed the 50 states asking them if they made any changes to their access laws to include the bed access. I was pleased to have received over 25 responses but unfortunately so far Florida and New Jersey stand alone.

Several states weren’t aware of the problem and said they will bring it to the attention of those who make change.

The next time you stay at a motel or hotel check to see if the bed is on a solid base, if it is let the management know that this is a problem to some people with physical disabilities. Every little bit helps and your help would be most appreciated.

Under title III of the ADA, See Section 303 of 28 CFR Part 36 at all public accommodations, including hotels, must provide auxiliary aids and services unless the provision of such auxiliary aids and services would result in a fundamental alteration of the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations being offered or would result in an undue burden.

I believe that hotels should provide open framed beds as an auxiliary aid.
I would like to know if you or people you know have been confronted with this dilemma and what was done to access the motel bed. If you feel the same as I do maybe, just maybe collectively we CAN make change.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

I am a C 5-6 quad injured while stationed in Germany 1967.
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