The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa is training 20 volunteers to be Universal Accessibility assessors. Once qualified, they will be responsible for examining the premises of establishments seeking to receive an accessibility grading. (Picture: Heinrich Spies and Lunice Johnston of the Tourism Grading Council with Jason Pratt of the Protea Wanderers Hotel.)
The accessibility grading assessment is made up of three categories that cover mobility, sight and hearing impairments. There are three distinct display symbols which indicate what categories an establishment has been graded on. Establishments can apply to be assessed on any of the categories. Most will probably apply for the mobility grading, while some premier hotel chains may want a full grading on all three categories.
The Protea Hotels group volunteered its Wanderers venue in Illovo, as a test bed for the Grading Council’s Gauteng-based assessors. Rolling Inspiration was invited to accompany Heinrich Spies on a tour of the hotel while his assessors were put through their paces. Prior to their training and evaluation, they have to undergo sensitivity training and attend presentations by disabled people. It’s worth noting that the Mobility assessment form alone is 16 pages long and has 115 different criteria to be assessed.
According to regulations, 5% of an establishment’s rooms must be wheelchair accessible. That means the bed must be no higher than 500mm from the ground; the shower must be a “roll in” design; there must be grab handles installed wherever wheelchair transfer takes place, such as at a toilet or bath, and desks and basins must accommodate a wheelchair user’s legs. Any ramps providing access to areas must ideally have a gradient of 1:15. (Picture: The three display symbols depicting the categories of accessibility grading.)A side benefit of this training process is that the Wanderers Protea hotel will get a comprehensive sample assessment which the group can use as a guideline for making its other hotels more disability-friendly. Certainly, Protea hotels will be having them graded once all the criteria have been fulfilled.