Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Speaking Up

Sometimes it is good to speak up when you see something that is wrong.  A few weeks ago I read something in a travel magazine that really bothered me. It was a suggestion that if you want a larger hotel room opt for a wheelchair accessible room. Having just traveled across the country we know first hand how hard it can be to find a room that is accessible. 

So, I sat down and Mike helped me to write a letter.  This is what we wrote.

"As parents of an adult son who uses a wheelchair, we are angered by your hotel review, regarding the Jalama Beach Cabins (June 2012, issue page 24).  You stated "...opt for the ADA-accessible Comorant, which has a bigger "yard" and ocean views from every room".    There was no mention that this room is for people who need the accessibility. And that is what it is for, PERIOD!!  It is NOT for people who just want a spacious room or an ocean view!!  

Out of seven cabins there is one with wheelchair access.  If it is taken by able body people, then the person using the wheelchair is left out.  Do you have any idea what that feels like?  Do you know how hard it can be to find a wheelchair accessible room??  Trust us, it is difficult!  Shame on you!! 

We think there needs to be an apology in your magazine addressed to people with disabilities.  And NOT just in a stuck in a little corner!! 

Maybe next time you do a hotel review you could borrow a wheelchair and try to get around and see how it feels.  Or maybe your magazine could do an article to help people with disabilities travel easier.  Certainly, a well trusted organization such as AAA could do better than you have done with this article." 

We didn't really expect to receive a reply with an apology but we did and were pleasantly surprised.

Dear Cindy and Mike,
Thank you so much for your letter in response to our review of the Jalama Beach Cabins ["Out&About," June]. We certainly would never recommend that someone who didn't need an accessible room or cabin take one over a person with a handicap. We're sorry we didn't make that clear in the story. We asked the writer to further clarify what she meant. Here's her response:
Thanks for your insight. Your point is a good one. We rented this cabin because it was the only one available on the weekend we camped, and we were sure that we weren't taking it from anyone who might otherwise need it. I can see how this might have seemed inconsiderate, however, and I appreciate hearing, and learning from, your perspective. Starshine Roshell
We can't speak for the policies of the Jalama Beach Cabins, but most hoteliers that we've spoken to have a "last sell" policy about their ADA-accessible rooms, saving them until the last-minute, so that they rent the ADA-compliant accommodations only when all others have been rented and when they're fairly certain that the room won't be needed by someone with a disability. You're absolutely right – the ADA compliant rooms are built to accommodate those who need them, not to give better accommodations to those who don't. In fact, we've done many stories about travel for people with disabilities, including these two:
And we'll continue to cover the topic in the future. Travel for those with disabilities is an issue we feel strongly about; that's why it's particularly troubling to me that I wasn't alert to how Starshine's comment could have been misinterpreted. I'm so sorry. We'll run a clarification in a future issue. Thank you again for writing to us. And thank you for reading Westways !
All the best,

So, the moral is speak up if you see something you don't think is right.  Maybe it will help others.  I truly hope this magazine writes something really positive to help people with disabilities travel easier.


I wrote a nice thank you for the reply and received this back.

Dear Mike and Cindy,
Thank you for understanding. I feel terrible. And so does the writer. I'm sure we're all going to be much more alert to these things in the future. Thank you again for calling my attention to this. (Incidentally, we've deleted the comment about the ADA-accessible cabin from the online version of the article. I should never have allowed that to go through.)
All the best,


Sarah Price Gomberg said...

AMAZING!!!! I am so glad that you spoke up and said something. I am sure that the editor will always have your letter in the back of their minds with every new article they look over!

Price Family said...

Way to go Mom! I'm so proud of you.

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