From the 124th Annual Meeting column of the October 2009 issue of Perspectives on History

Information and Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

Sharon K. Tune, October 2009

San Diego is one of the most accessible cities in the world for visitors with disabilities. Here are a few resources that attendees can consult, followed by details about the accessibility features at the various meeting hotels.

Accessible San Diego (www.asd.travel; 619-325-7550) has an access guide ($5), Access in San Diego, published each year. The guide gives brief descriptions of hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, and the area’s many other tourist attractions, and has reliable information about their access features, locations, and contact numbers. It also lists accessible public transportation providers, community service agencies, and a host of other resources including wheelchair repair.

To obtain a copy of A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Getting around San Diego, contact 619-233-3004. For the hearing impaired TTY/TTD call 619-234-5005.

At San Diego International Airport numerous accessibility services are available, such as TDD telephones, visual paging monitors, and a courtesy cart operated by the Volunteer Airport Ambassadors. Travelers may request personal assistance at any time by calling Airport Paging from any courtesy phone or TDD phone location. Once connected, advise the Airport Operator that accessibility services are required. The Red Bus provides complimentary wheelchair-accessible transportation between the airport’s terminals. Buses run at intervals not exceeding 10 minutes. Designated Red Bus stops are located curbside at all three terminals. For ADA passengers, each shuttle company is required by the airport to have within their fleet ADA compatible vehicles. San Diego’s public transit provides full accessibility on all trolleys and buses. It also offers MTS Access Service, which provides point-to-point paratransit service for $3.50 each way, exact change required. To use it, you must be ADA-paratransit-certified in your hometown or in San Diego. MTS Access can make same-day pickups, but recommends making reservations at least two days in advance. To schedule a ride, call 888-517-9627 any day between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (TTY/TDD: 1-800-568-7097). Reservations are accepted from two days in advance up to 5:00 p.m. the day before travel. That means if you want to travel on a Monday, you can call to schedule your trip from 8:00 a.m. on Saturday up to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Be ready to provide your name, pick-up address, when you would like to travel, destination address, and if/when you would like to book a return trip.

Wheelchair rentals are available through Wheelchair Source (www.wheelchairsource.com/; 619-234-9505; info@mobility-source.com). Rental prices include pick-up and delivery to hotels.

Scooter rentals are available by contacting ScootAround Inc., toll-free at 888-441-7575, by e-mail at info@scootaround.com, online at www.scootaround.com, or by fax at 204-478-1172.

A general resource is Barrier-Free Travels: A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Wheelers and Slow Walkers (2009, 3d edition). It contains detailed information about the logistics of planning accessible travel—whether by plane, train, or bus. The book includes important details about accessible air travel, traveling with oxygen, accessible ground transportation, choosing a travel agent, online booking, accessible recreation, and budget travel. It is available in bookstores, or online at www.barrierfreetravel.net.

Information about Hotels

The information that follows is provided to assist AHA Annual Meeting attendees with disabilities in obtaining the reasonable accommodations they require. Please refer to this information when making hotel reservations or arrangements to participate in program sessions and other events. In particular, guests should advise the housing service about specific needs when making room reservations.

All hotels have accessible lobbies; several have autoslide doors. Thresholds and doormats are in compliance with American with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and door-service personnel are available at most properties. Lobbies have marble floors and/or low-pile area carpeting. All hotels have accessible registration desks or provide clipboards to guests to complete registration documentation. Elevators connect all levels of each hotel. Each elevator has a wheelchair accessible keypad, Braille numerals beside each control button, and audible directions. Restrooms in lobbies and on meeting room floors are wheelchair accessible and have tactile signage.

All hotels have accessible guest rooms. The number of such rooms at each property is noted in the listing below. Among other amenities, these rooms feature: wheelchair-accessible doors, lever/lever door handles, security peepholes, ample room space, grab bars in restrooms, low sinks with insulated pipes, accessible towel racks, and accessible mirrors. The following auxiliary aids are available at most properties: flashing fire alarm, doorbell, and telephone; vibrating alarm clock; closed-caption decoders; Braille signage; and TDD telephones.

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

  • Entrance: All hotel entrances are accessible, including the main entrance on Market Place. The garage entrance is also accessible, as is the entrance from Seaport Courtyard/Village and Kettner Boulevard.

  • Parking: The hotel’s garage has 20 accessible spaces, and elevators serve every floor to the lobby level.

  • Guestrooms: The hotel has 46 accessible rooms.

  • Meeting rooms: All meeting room levels are accessible.

  • Restaurants: All hotel outlets are accessible: Lobby Bar, Lael’s, Ann Marie’s, Sally’s, Redfields, and Top of the Hyatt.

San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina

  • Entrances: The following locations have autodoors: North Tower first floor (Molly’s entrance), Marriott Hall (by Chicago), main lobby (by the bellstand), and South Tower first floor (Santa Rosa and Laguna entrances). The following have ramps: North Tower lobby level (Columbia and Torrey exit and the Marriott Hall entrance), South Tower first floor (Solana), and Bayside Pavilion (by South Tower catwalk).

  • Parking: North Tower parking facility has eight accessible spaces, three are van accessible and the South Tower facility has 12 accessible spaces, four are van accessible.

  • Guestrooms: The North Tower has 22 accessible rooms, 11 with roll-in showers and the South Tower has 21 rooms, two with roll-in showers.

  • Meeting rooms: All meeting room levels are served by elevators.

  • Restaurants: The hotel’s three restaurants are accessible: LC’s (breakfast), Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine (lunch and dinner), and DW’s Restaurant (lunch and dinner).

Hilton San Diego Bayfront

  • Entrance: The main lobby and the promenade entrances on Gull Street are both accessible; the back entrance of the hotel, which is located near the pool and boardwalk, is also accessible.

  • Parking: The hotel has accessible parking spots available, with entrances from the self-parking facility including two elevators and a ramp located from the parking garage to the main lobby level of the hotel.

  • Guestrooms: The hotel has 31 guest rooms that meet standard ADA requirements.

  • Meeting rooms: All meeting rooms are accessible by elevator or escalator.

  • Restaurants: All food and beverage outlets—Starbucks, Vela, and Odysea—are accessible.

Embassy Suites San Diego Bay Downtown

  • Entrance: The hotel’s main entrance on the Pacific Coast Highway is accessible.

  • Parking: The hotel’s parking garage provides a number of accessible spaces, and can accommodate vans.

  • Guestrooms: The hotel has 16 suites that are accessible.

  • Restaurants: The hotel’s restaurant, PFC Bar and Grill, is accessible.

—Sharon K. Tune is convention director for the American Historical Association.