Simply put, a hearing-accessible room is a hotel room designed with the needs of deaf, deafened, or other hearing-impaired guests in mind.
What makes a hotel room hearing-accessible?
To accommodate the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing guests, a hotel room must be equipped with certain amenities such as:
1. An accessible phone
This phone should have features like a TDD (Telecommunication Device for the Deaf) and a speaker that can go up in volume for persons with impaired hearing.
A TDD is used in conjunction with a telephone and allows a deaf person to communicate over the phone by receiving and transmitting text messages.
A TDD will vibrate and use lights instead of sound when a call is received. However, with the widespread adoption of smartphones, TDDs are not commonly used anymore.
2. A doorbell flasher
This device uses loud sounds and visual notifications in the form of flashing lights to indicate when the doorbell has been pressed or when someone is knocking on the door.
Some models can connect to your phone via Bluetooth, making it vibrate when someone is at the door.
In some hotels, the lights inside a hearing-accessible room will flicker when the doorbell is pressed, so you can be notified even if you’re in the bathroom.
3. A visual fire alarm with strobing lights
If you have hearing difficulties, you may not be able to hear a traditional fire alarm in the event of an emergency.
To address this safety concern, many hotels and other accommodations offer visual fire alarms that use flashing lights to alert guests.
These alarms may also produce loud sounds as an additional notification method. However, it is important to consider that a deaf person wearing a sleep eye mask may not be able to see the flashing lights.
To ensure that all guests are alerted in the event of a fire or other emergency, hotels offer various notification methods, such as vibrating pads or other tactile alerts in addition to visual and auditory alarms.
4. A bed shaker
A bed shaker is a device that is attached directly to the bed frame or mattress that starts vibrating when an alarm goes off.
Many bed shakers now have wireless connectivity and can be connected to a smartphone to vibrate when the phone’s alarm sounds.
5. Extra loud alarm clock with projection on the ceiling
This device is only found in some hearing-accessible hotel rooms because it can be deafening and disruptive to other guests.
When the alarm goes off, the sound will gradually get louder while the clock projects flashing lights on the ceiling that gradually get brighter.
6. Closed captioning on the TV
This feature provides a written transcript of the audio content that is played on TV and is usually displayed at the bottom of the screen.
You can turn the closed caption on or off as needed since it can be accessed from the TV’s settings menu.
Some hotels offer wireless TV headsets for guests who are hard of hearing. These devices can produce over 100 decibels of sound.
If you don’t have hearing issues, you should not use these headsets, as they could potentially cause hearing problems.
If you’re interested in learning about the requirements for a hotel room to be considered hearing-accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you can find that information here.
Is it possible to book a hearing-accessible room even if you don’t have hearing impairments?
When booking a hearing-accessible room, you don’t need to provide information about your medical situation or condition, meaning that you can book this type of room even if you are perfectly healthy.
However, even though you can do this, it is not appropriate to do.
Usually, hotels have a limited number of rooms designed to accommodate guests with disabilities.
For example, a hotel with just under 200 rooms needs to have at least 12 hearing-accessible ones.
These rooms are the last to be booked since hotels keep them available for impaired guests.
You shouldn’t book an accessible room out of curiosity, as disabled people may need one at any given time, and it is not ethical to potentially take one away from them.
Keep in mind that even if there are some advantages when booking one, you could encounter some unforeseen drawbacks.
A friend of mine booked one out of curiosity, and the rooms were near the hotel bar. He could hear loud noises and people’s voices all night.
He couldn’t complain to the front desk since he would blow his cover.
Kinda funny, if you ask me.
Are hearing-accessible rooms more expensive to book than regular ones?
Most times, there isn’t a price difference, but hearing-accessible rooms tend to be more spacious, and some hotels charge more for large rooms.
Another thing to consider is that if you book for a couple of days, some hotels will give a serious discount for the hearing-accessible rooms. This, of course, differs by case.
It’s worth noting that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal rights and access to the same spaces and amenities as those without disabilities at no extra cost.
It is illegal to charge more for an accessible hotel room. However, it is disappointing to note that many hotels in the U.S. still charge more for these rooms.
Are all hearing-accessible rooms the same?
Hearing-accessible rooms are not designed solely for deaf individuals. In fact, many of these rooms are created to accommodate a range of disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs or have visual impairments.
The doors in most of these rooms are significantly wider than standard hotel rooms.
Also, some hotels have automatic doors that help persons in wheelchairs enter and exit the room without any hassle.
Some hearing-accessible rooms will likely have a larger bathroom that is wheelchair accessible, with features like an accessible shower or tub with grab bars to assist individuals with mobility impairments.
One of the room’s features is a bed that sits lower to the ground, similar to a hospital bed.
This can be useful for people who use a wheelchair and want to transfer onto the bed.
Keep in mind that most hearing-accessible rooms are located on the ground floor. The parking spaces for people with impairments are usually found as close as possible to these rooms.
Can you find hearing-accessible rooms in the rest of the world?
While it can be difficult to find hotels with rooms specially designed for individuals with disabilities in many countries, it is generally easier to find these types of accommodations in highly developed and economically advanced countries.
It’s encouraging to see that even in remote locations like Kenya and other African countries, you can now find hotels that offer these types of rooms.
Why do some people end up in a hearing-accessible room even though they didn’t ask for one?
Hearing-accessible rooms are rented last, meaning that the last few rooms that can be booked are accessible ones. Keep in mind that if you book online, you will not be informed if you reserved a hearing-accessible one.
In my opinion, it would be considerate for hotels to inform their customers in advance if they have booked an accessible room, as some people may be offended if they are placed in one without prior knowledge.
What does hearing accessible mean on iPhone?
The iPhone has a range of accessibility features for users with hearing impairments, including closed captions, the ability to type to Siri, headphone accommodations, hearing aid compatibility, and TTY software.
Some of these features can be found in the Settings menu, while others may require the installation of additional apps.
It’s worth noting that to access the full suite of hearing accessibility features, you’ll need to upgrade your iPhone’s iOS to the latest version.