While many hotels offer mobility accessible rooms for disabled guests, the Mercure Hobart hotel has gone two steps further with the modification of eight accommodation rooms to specifically cater for visitors with a hearing or vision impairment.
Statistics from the Australian Network on Disability show that almost four million (1 in 5) Australians have a disability. Over one million Australians are hard of hearing, with around 30,000 people living with a total loss of hearing. In addition, 300,000 Australians have a vision impairment that is not correctable by glasses and up to 20,000 people have total loss of sight – but that doesn’t stop these people from travelling.
In partnership with Hearing Link Tasmania, The Tasmanian Deaf Society and Royal Guide Dogs Tasmania, Mercure Hobart has worked tirelessly over many months to ensure that its rooms and hotel services cater to the needs of those with vision impairment and hearing loss whilst meeting the strictest guidelines and specifications of these organisations.
“Just as we cater to the requirements of business travellers, we’ve realised the need to adapt our services for those living and travelling with a disability. We recognise that having a disability means more than just mobility – hence we updated our public areas services and adapted a number of accommodation rooms to cater to the needs of travellers with a hearing loss or vision impairment.” said general manager of Mercure Hobart, Adrian Sampson.
“Mercure Hobart is proud to open Australia’s first hearing loss and vision impaired-friendly hotel rooms for not only domestic travellers but international as well, and we look forward to making their hotel experience more comfortable and stress-free. And of course, we welcome guide dogs and hearing assistance dogs,” Adrian added.
Rooms have been updated with a range of fixed and portable features for the deaf and hard of hearing visitors including tactile technology such as an alarm clock with strobe light and under pillow vibrating pad, which is responsive to the hotel’s fire alarm, independent room door bell and telephone unit.
Large dial button and display screen telephones, touch reactive alarm clocks, increased room lighting, audio versions of the room compendium, room service menus and emergency and evacuation information have been introduced for the vision impaired. In-room stationary and door signage have also been produced in Braille.
The minister for tourism, Scott Bacon, praised the Mercure Hobart for the new upgrades. “It’s important our hotels offer support to meet the needs of a wide variety of visitors,” he said. “I congratulate the Mercure Hobart for these upgrades, which will provide the support needed for visitors with a hearing or vision impairment.”
CEO of The Tasmanian Deaf Society and Hearing Link Tasmania (a division of Tasdeaf), Gordon Melsom, added “We are delighted to have been involved in this visionary initiative of the Mercure Hobart. We hope that other Tasmanian organisations will follow this lead in providing appropriate facilities for this significant part of the community.”
CEO of Royal Guide Dogs Tasmania, Dan English, said “We are so proud to have been a part of this project. The Mercure Hobart has demonstrated a real commitment to working with, and for, those who are vision impaired, and hopefully, all Tasmanian businesses could learn from this example.”
The Mercure’s public areas and front desk services have also added specific disability features for guests such as Hearing Loop, tactile flooring and Braille touch surfaces. The Embers restaurant, bar and lounge menus are also available in Braille or audio formats. Importantly, all hotel staff have been trained in disability awareness and assistance, basic sign and how to use new reception services including the Telephone Relay Service and Hearing Loop.
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