hotel-bellNew ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations for lodging will go into effect on March 15, 2012. These regulations update the ADA standards that went into effect in 2010 for all places of lodging including motels, hotels and inns with more than 5 rooms for rent. The goal of the ADA standards is to offer accessible lodging to people with disabilities.

The newest regulations named the Revised Final ADA Regulation for Title III contain the following changes:

Types of Lodging – Timeshares, condominium hotels and other properties that operate like a hotel are included in the updated ADA regulations for lodging.

Ability to Make Reservations – Reservations for accessible rooms must be available during the same time and in the same way as other hotel rooms. Features for all rooms, especially those that make a room accessible, are to be identified and described when a request is made. Handicapped accessible rooms should not be rented to guests who do not require this type of room; instead these rooms should be set aside for a traveler with a disability. When this type of room is reserved, it is to be taken out of the reservation system.

Service Animals – Only dogs that are trained to work with a person with a disability are to be considered service animals. Other animals, including monkeys, birds, etc. are not included, nor are dogs that are considered emotional support. Trained miniature horses, which are service animals, can be substituted for dogs, but with limitations. No fees for service animals are to be added, even if there is a pet fee in effect. Management cannot ask about the nature of a guest’s disability or request proof of a service animal’s training.

Effective Communication – Video remote interpreting (VRI) services have been added as an additional means of communication. “VRI is an interpreting service that uses video conference technology over dedicated lines or wireless technology offering a high-speed, wide-bandwidth video connection that delivers high-quality video images. “

Wheelchairs and Other Mobility Devices – A distinction has been made between wheelchairs and “other power-driven mobility devices.” These include devices that are not made for someone with a mobility disability such as the Segway® PT, which some people choose to use as a mobility device. Wheelchairs and “other devices designed for use by people with mobility impairments” (scooters, etc.) must be permitted access to all pedestrian paths. There will now considerations for safety of the use of these devices and the cost of making pathways accessible to “other power-driven mobility devices”, however.

This is a summary of the updated ADA regulations for lodging. Please consult the Americans with Disabilities Act standards website for more information. It is helpful to work with your place of lodging if a problem arises, but if you feel that you have been discriminated or that access to a place of lodging was not made available to you, a Title III complaint can be made to the Department of Justice.

Connie Roberts is a professional blogger who makes it her mission to advocate for people with medical issues. Travel with a disability is not a struggle, but an opportunity to see the world and let others see that it’s possible and a lot of fun. Tweet with her @ConnieFoggles.