Access Israel Held "Accessibility in Hotels" conference, in Collaboration with the Israel Hotel Association
|The conference was held at the Herod’s Hotel in Tel Aviv. Knesset Member Ilan Gilon, Mr. Amir Halevi, CEO of the Israeli Office of Tourism, Mr. Ami Federman, the president of the Israel Hotel Association, and Yuval Wagner, the chairman of the Israel Accessibility association were all in attendance, along with 120 managers from the Hospitality industry|
The new accessibility regulations in service of people with disabilities went into effect this month. These regulations are very significant for Israeli hotels, from a legal and enforcement perspective.
In light of the above, and in order to advance awareness to this issue, the Israeli Hotel Association and Negishut Israel Association initiated this manager’s conference that covered the implementation of accessibility in hotels and suggested implementation tools, familiarity with the accessibility guidelines, enforcement, and more.
Since these are new regulations, we wanted to understand the baseline—what is the current state in Israeli hotels.
● 30% of the hotels inspected do not yet have rooms designated for the disabled.
● 30% of the hotels have less than the legally required number of rooms for the disabled (out of the hotels that actually have rooms designated for the disabled)
● 80% of the hotels do not have proper equipment for lowering or raising a disabled person into and out of the swimming pool (out of the hotels that have rooms for the disabled)
● 81% of the hotels do not have a room designated for the disabled connected with a door to a room for family members or a caretaker (out of the hotels that have rooms for the disabled)
● 51% of the rooms designated for the disabled do not offer a view (hotels generally create disabled-accessible rooms on the sides of low floors without a view)
● 87% of the hotels do not have a disabled-accessible suite
● 88% of the hotels are not accessible for the hearing and/or vision impaired (the rooms require a special kit and a system to amplify sound at the reception)
● None of the hotels published detailed, reliable information, including pictures, regarding accessibility arrangements.
We must emphasize that the accessibility revolution is in an early stage, and the hotels in Israel are required to comply with the accessibility regulations by November 2017.
According to Mr. Yuval Wagner, the chairman of Negishut Israel Association: “ The findings of the hotel accessibility survey speak for themselves! At the moment, there is a very great need for improving the conditions for people with disabilities, the road ahead of us is long, but I am certain that all who are involved will invest greatly in the hotels, knowing that this population will return to them. It is important to understand that creating these accessibility arrangements is a business investment that will provide return in the short term. This is about financial image and social profit that the hospitality industry is currently lacking.”
At the end of the conference, it was decided that the Israeli hotel industry and Negishut Israel Association will assist the hotels with the accessibility process over the next several years with information, tutorials , training, and more, to ensure that the hotels will comply with the regulations and create equal access, so that a person with disability can enjoy vacation in Israel like all other people: with equality, benefits, and maximum independence.
The service accessibility regulations require the hotels to enable accessibility for the following:
● Website accessibility
● Call center accessibility
● Provide service via phone/SMS/mail/email
● Detailed publishing of all accessibility arrangements
● Employee training for accessible service
● Appointment and training of accessibility manager
● Enabling accessibility to all or part of reception and service desks, to persons with mobility disability, and implementation of a system for the hearing impaired, such as Inspiration Loop
● Provide hearing aid kits for hotel guests who have a hearing disability, so that they can hear a knock on the door, the phone ring, or the alarm
● Escort for the blind, per their request, from point of entry into the hotel, through reception/elevator, and any hotel areas
● Reserved parking for the disabled
● Customized furnishing of the designated units in the hotels
● Customized signage for the visually impaired—adding tactile signage and contrast, including directional signs and room numbers
● Customized information accessibility: according to the various disabilities, service information must be available: brochures, advertisements, letters, and messages in one of more of the following mediums: accessible print, recording (CD/DVD), digital files (PDF or plain text), dictation, braille, simplified language, sign language, and more
● Customizing services for events and shows for audiences
● Customizing restaurant services (menus/bar accessibility/accessible seats and tables)
● And more