There are plenty of rules and guidelines when it comes to designing accessible spaces—but there are things that still do not make it EASY for people to use.

When working with The Arc of Indiana to design their new Training Institute and Teaching Hotel, we had the opportunity to sit down with a group from the Self Advocates of Indiana. We learned from them what it is like to experience life when you walk with a chair. Their insights were invaluable and helped shape many of the design features in the hotel. Some of those include:

  • Wider doors to accessible rooms with actuators – Have you ever tried to carry your luggage, while trying to finagle your key card, and open your door? Sure, we all have. But have you ever tried to do that in a wheelchair? In order to make room access easier for guests, all accessible guest rooms will have wider entry doors for maneuverability and actuators to automatically open the door.
  • Three areas of the room with a full turning radius – Accessible rooms are set up for an individual to turn around. When you have more than one individual walking with a chair, space to maneuver quickly becomes very tight.
  • Mirrored accessible rooms providing restroom fixture controls on either side – Since most hotel rooms’ stack, there is a good chance all accessible rooms are replicas of each other. This can be a huge problem since there are some disabilities that effect one side of the body and not the other. If you have a room where the controls for your shower are on the wrong side, there is no way to reach them.
  • Windows located next to Areas of Refuge in the stairwells – In the case of an emergency, people with mobility issues will be able to see what is going on while waiting for evacuation help.
  • Grassy areas to accommodate companion dogs – Located in a downtown setting, an area for dogs can be difficult to come by. Space has been maintained just outside the side door.


Overall, designing a hotel has many components. When thinking of a hotel featured to accommodate persons with disabilities, you have to think outside the box. The lessons learned above should be applied to all hotels for increased mobility, not just The Arc of Indiana’s new Training Institute and Teaching Hotel.