Disability Travel - Is Hawaii somehow ADA exempt?
May 30, 12, 11:31 pm
Just got back from a trip to Maui, and was struck by how inaccessible a lot of the stuff is. Our hotel had us in an accessible room that had a regular toilet compartment adorned with a couple of grab bars. Of course I couldn't transfer (I couldn't even roll into the stall, because was only about 35in wide), so my travel companion had to carry me (every time I had to use the bathroom, for a week). The hotel's management stated that that's how their ADA rooms are, and that they don't see a problem because they have annual inspections that don't result in complaints. I bet they tell their able-bodied guests, tough luck, find someone to carry you on the potty. :rolleyes:
But there was a marked lack of accessibility in a lot of places; parking lots without handicap spots (or very narrow ones without access aisles), doors that are impossible to open for wheelchair users (no power assist buttons anywhere in sight), restaurants with only "bar chair" level counters and inaccessible restrooms, lack of curb cuts, overly narrow path of travel, lack of turning space, etc. (A lot of the shopping centers and strip malls have cumbersome entrances through the back or via kitchen/service entrances; that is fine and not what I'm talking about here).
What causes this? Do they have different rules for Hawaii? Are inspectors paid off or incompetent, or just more relaxed and happy to give establishments a free pass?
Jun 7, 12, 10:52 am
We had a very different experience in Hawaii. We were on Oahu, rather than Maui. We were much more successful locating handicapped parking in Hawaii than we are in our home in Florida. Our hotel was completely accessible. We only had one experience that created any difficulty. We ate at a restaurant on a second floor near the beach. While we were dining the elevator stopped working. The restaurant staff took us to a restaurant across the hall and they let us use their service elevator.
Street parking was easy. We were always able to locate a parking place near our destination. If I remember correctly we did not pay to park on the street, but just hung our placard on the rear view mirror. We did the same thing in city owner parking lots, and we had no problem finding handicapped spaces in privately owned parking lots.
We received exceptional treatment at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The staff went out of their way to make sure we were treated equitably. Our wheelchairs were moved for us to we could take the boat ride. At the evening show and banquet we were given premium seats in the front of the theatre.
We travel extensively and we remember Hawaii as being one of the easiest destinations we have visited in the last few years. Exclusively because it was so easy we plan to return in a few months.
We also had no trouble on Kauai (Poipu area), except for our condo, but that was our own fault for not staying in a hotel instead.
I was, however, horrified when I came out of the grocery store on about day 3 of our trip and discovered that the rental car agency had written "Handicapped" in giant white crayon vertically on the edge of the windshield of our car. Somehow I managed not to notice it until then.
Thanks, ladies! I have been to Oahu and Kauai several times; Oahu is generally better than what we saw in Maui, but I remember Kauai as being pretty cumbersome (Hanalei with its bumpy sidewalks -or lack thereof- and building access through the back entrances ... very cute town, though). In Maui, in contrast, we noticed ADA violations left and right ... to the point of causing real problems like being physically unable to use overly narrow "handicap" bathroom stalls. Glad to hear that there doesn't seem to be a general exception for Hawaii; I will make sure to write some letters to let people know about things that need to be fixed. :)
Jun 14, 12, 10:19 am
I've been to Oahu several times in the past 2-3 years and am always impressed with the ease and accessibility of the public bus! I use a heavy power chair so a rental car isn't an option, but I must say that I've given up on trying to find one of their scarce & expensive 'handi-vans' and have been very pleased with the schedule and coverage of The Bus. I would like to do the Big Island one of these days and for that I'll be renting a wheelchair accessible van from Wheelchair Getaways. A lot of the Oahu hotels are pretty old--but have always had a very accessible room when requested (and I usually stay pretty cheap!)