The Boshoff Guesthouse is well on its way, building is progressing well and our goal to provide accessible accommodation in the south Durban area is fast becoming a reality. Amidst the excitement of our new venture, the topic of accessibility and especially accessible accommodation has, however, presented many questions and elicited a whole variety of opinions.
What is Accessible Accommodation?
Like able bodied individuals, disabled people vary immensely. There are so many different disabilities and levels of severity within each category of disability, that defining it in one singular sentence seems near impossible. The Oxford dictionary describes disability as “a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities,” suggesting that the term covers an incredibly broad spectrum. In trying to offer accessible accommodation for disabled travelers or tourists, limitations or shortcomings, therefore, are most likely to exist in every establishment that market themselves as being accessible.
My disability as a paraplegic differs vastly from someone who is, for instance, visually impaired, resulting in our needs in terms of accessible accommodation differing substantially. Even within the range of spinal cord injuries, impairment and limitations differ widely, suggesting that our needs as far as travel bookings go inevitably will also be completely different.
Hence, our conundrum, since we would like to offer accessible accommodation to disabled travelers visiting our beautiful city.
We know one thing for certain. Trying to satisfy everyone will be futile. Not unlike able bodied tourists, our disabled visitors will find shortcomings and have criticisms irrespective of the effort and the lengths we will go to to accommodate them. It won’t be a business or, for that matter, life, if all just went well. But, keeping our eye on the prize and sticking to our goal plan, being a little more specific, simplifying things as much as we can and especially acknowledging a couple of facts, will certainly make things easier.
Fact #1: We won’t be able to cater for everyone’s needs and we won’t be marketing ourselves as such.
Fact #2: We will comply with and adhere to the basic structures, principles, measurements and minimum requirements legislated and deemed acceptable according to building regulations for facilities offered to the disabled.
Fact #3: Although we will go to great lengths to cater for as many disabled visitors as possible, we will encourage interested travelers to view as many images as we can share with them and to consider the information and detailed descriptions we will provide to make informed choices in terms of their own disability BEFORE making a booking with The Boshoff. Eg. we won’t have permanent hoists in the guesthouse, but we will have measures in place to offer assistive devices should a guest require them.
Accessibility at The Boshoff
In Accomable on Tour’s article on “What is accessible?”, they conclude by saying: “So to summarise, people are different, disabilities are different, wheelchairs are different, so why should we have one single definition of ‘accessible’ or one property and adaptation that fits all?” I couldn’t have said it any better.
Aesthetic accessibility will always be a key factor at The Boshoff. We love decor and design, but I love comfort as well and there is nothing worse than being hampered by a ridiculously inaccessible layout whilst on holiday. Our family has been living with disability and accessibility issues for almost 19 years and we will endeavour to share what has worked, eliminate aspects that have not, but most importantly to listen to the needs of our guests.
We can’t wait to welcome our guests!