As an ADA Inspector for architectural barriers, the new construction BLOOPERS never cease to amaze me! Here’s a new 12′ wide accessible parking space with the required access aisle, correct location, and correct signage; yet no ACCESS ROUTE to the Hotel SIDEWALK!
By ADA law, the disabled person parking here should be able to access the hotel entry without having to cross traffic or travel behind any other parked vehicles. Rolling out into the traffic lane, around the planter, and through the portico is not the solution! The ramp down to the driveway pavement is on the other side of the palm tree planter. SAFETY is a key component to the ADA Standard.
SOLUTION: At no additional cost, the sidewalk could have been designed to ramp down from both sides to a flat landing to meet the access aisle.
A curb stop to prevent parked cars from encroaching the sidewalk prevents cars from encroaching an accessible sidewalk are not required, however, they prevent cars from pulling forward and blocking the sidewalk.
If you have any ADA BLOOPERS, please share! For any ADA Access questions, feel free to call. Susan’s cell, 407-310-3663
One thing few people know about me is that in the late 1980’s, after leaving Disney’s Live Show Design department, I joined the architectural studio of Benjamin P. Butera, AIA. Ben is a visionary architect, who worked alongside GKTW founder Henri Landwirth in the original planning and design of the village. 26 years later, Ben is still on the team. I was lucky enough to be part of that original design team.
I always recommend Henri’s inspiring autobiography “The Gift of Life” to anyone starting a non-profit or anyone who is wondering how they can make a difference in this world. The story starts with Henri’s life as a young prisoner in the WW2 Holocaust concentration camps, his survival and journey to working in hotels in New York, to finding his twin sister in America, to managing the hottest Florida space coast hotel during the Space Race of the 1960’s, to developing his Holiday Inn in the early Walt Disney World days, to founding Give Kids The World. His friends Walter Chronkite and astronaut John Glenn wrote the foreword and afterword. The book is an inspiration for everyone to do their best.
Sitting in on design meetings with GKTW founder Henri Landwirth, he planted the seeds that:
Good architecture always accommodates and serves all people.
One day Ben was handed me the blueprints for Ginger Bread House restaurant that Perkins donated to Give Kids The World It was a very ordinary looking commercial style building with some Victorian brackets here and there. It was nothing special at all. From my quick marker and pen sketch, the iconic GKTW gingerbread house was born. Little did I know at that time, that this building would be recognized around the world as a place of loving and caring.
Accessible Resort Villas at GKTW
One of the early projects we designed were the original accessible resort Villas. I was still single then and had no clue that children living with a disability or life-threatening disease might have to shower flat or require the assistance of two people to bathe. This is where I first learned that accessibility is much more than what is written as the acceptable minimum standard in the Federal ADA, American With Disabilities Code.
Visiting a new villa was a highlight. The guest suites of this accessible resort take all abilities into consideration in the design. Here are the photos. Since kids usually take baths, this unit is designed with a large bath tub. The shower doesn’t have grab bars.
Often children who are wheelchair users use a shower chair and have their parents assistance in bathing. The handheld shower is the important part. I was surprised that there wasn’t a hand held shower at the tub to assist with bathing or a slide bar at the shower to position the shower head.
The large accessible toilet is set up for an easy transfer. The accessible sink vanity is higher with a lever faucet and knee protection from hot plumbing pipes. The adjacent sink is a little lower to accommodate children. All of these features are part of Universal Design. The accessible resort cheerful kids room has two twin beds and plenty of space to roll around or play. The beds are high to accommodate sliding a hoyer lift under the bed for transfer.
The front porch of each accessible villa provides a smooth transition from the sidewalk through the front door. We enjoyed tasting Gigi’s Cupcakes as we toured universally designed villa.
Accessible Resort Chapel at Give Kids The World
We didn’t get a chance to walk inside the chapel during this visit. Henri Landwirth requested that we design a chapel so that the parents would have a place of peace. We designed it as a Victorian tower added to the existing administration buildings. I learned that for many of the children, their last wish is to come to Disney and meet their favorite characters. Some have even passed away in the arms of their wish character or while visiting GKTW.
Every night the GKTW village celebrates a different holiday like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. They try to pack as many happy memories int as short a period of time possible. Having a place for prayer and meditation offers a place for release.
The hexagon shaped chapel has 4 huge stain glass windows representing Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. There is a ring of hand painted clouds above leading to heaven.
Walk-In Accessible Pool and Water Park
Every night there is a pool party with music, bubbles, and a D.J.
The evening when were there it was a pirate themed party. You can see the pirate ship in the background.
There are PVC wheelchairs for kids to use to just roll right into the accessible walk-in pool or the water park.
Accessible Enchanted Carousel
One of our favorite venues is the Castle of Miracles and Enchanted Carousel. The Castle includes Twinkle Hope’s La Ti Da Royal Spa, a mysterious forest to explore, Father Time, a Wishing Well that burps, Rusty the friendly guard and a Great Hall full of magic. Waiting for all Wish Children is the Star Fairy, who magically soars into the night placing the Gold Stars on the Castle ceiling. Even children who are wheel chair users can enjoy sitting in the turtle on the merry go round.
The Ice Cream Palace serves Ice Cream Morning Noon and Night!
Give Kids The World ensures that every venue, activity and villa fully accommodates all of our precious guests. From The Park of Dreams pool to The Garden of Hope pathways, everything at GKTW’s whimsical Village is wheelchair accessible. A former wish mom recalls her family’s wonderful experience here at the Village.
“Our stay at GKTW was amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing. Everyone was so compassionate, thoughtful and treated us like a member of their family. It’s amazing to visit a place that meets the needs of such special children. There are not many places, which we go to as a family, that accommodate wheelchairs. Our family was so happy that my daughter could partake in the same activities as the other family members – even swimming and horseback riding! I would like to thank GKTW for this beautiful experience,” – former wish child, Juvollia’s family.king my daughter’s wish come true but for fulfilling my dream of keeping my entire family together. You have touched our hearts and we will .
Kristen, a LI Paraplegic born with Spina Bifida, created Living Able on Facebook and YouTube to demonstrate how she transfers, does daily tasks and makes her own accommodations in a sometimes non-accommodating world. She offers tips for people living with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities.
I believe that every facility owner should watch her videos in order to understand what they are doing to people living with disabilities by not providing enough accessible hotel rooms that meet the new 2010 ADA Code for accessibility. Every hotel owner needs to demand that all request for an accessible room be honored. Reservationists need to be trained to ask clients requesting an accessible room, what request they might have for a comfortable stay. I am honored to share Kristen’s video.
Hotel Guest Transferring to Toilet in a Non-Accessible Room
In the video, Kristen’s wheelchair does not fit through the toilet room door. There were no available accessible rooms in the hotel where she was staying during a business trip to Nashville. She had to stay in a non-accessible hotel room. Kristen is an independent woman who is used to making her own accommodations. She uses the rolling desk chair from the business center to get into the bathroom and to transfer to the toilet. There are no grab bars. She has to hold onto the sink, the door, the door knob and the wall to balance herself. As I watched her video, I was holding my breath hoping that she didn’t fall. Kristen is a young Living Able person, but what happens when an older or weaker person is in the same situation?
As a hotel owner, what liabilities are you exposing yourself to in this situation?
What happens if a disabled hotel guest falls?
What is stopping you from providing simple room accommodations to engage more aging guests and disabled hotel guests?