From the 125th Annual Meeting column of the October 2010 issue of Perspectives on History

Information for Persons with Disabilities

Sharon K. Tune, October 2010

General Information

Boston is one of the most accessible cities in the world for visitors with disabilities. Here are a few resources and general information.

Logan International Airport’s customer service line is 800-23-LOGAN. The airport has numerous accessibility services available, such as TTY telephones, visual paging monitors, and Public Services information booths with TTY. The Public Service representatives are available daily from 7:00 a.m. to midnight and can be reached by pressing “0” during the recorded message. They can provide information about accessible ground transportation, parking, and terminal services. Travelers can call the customer service line for free from any pay phone in Logan’s terminals or parking facilities by dialing *23 (voice). Terminal directories located throughout the airport identify locations of accessible services and facilities for each terminal including elevators, restrooms, and animal relief areas. All public telephones are equipped with amplifiers and are hearing aid telecoil compatible. Wheelchair-accessible telephones are also available throughout the airport.

Bus shuttle companies are required by the airport to have within their fleet ADA-compatible vehicles.

Physical accessibility is available on the city’s public transit system, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA or “T”). All buses, all Orange Line stations, all but two Red Line stations, and most Blue Line stations are accessible. The MBTA provides recorded elevator, wheelchair lift, and escalator status updates by telephone at 617-222-2828 or 800-392-6100; in case of questions that are not answered by the recorded telephone service, customer service representatives are available at 617-222-3200.

Persons with disabilities can ride local buses for 40 cents, inner express buses for $1.40, and outer express buses for $2. Persons with disabilities can also ride MBTA subway services for 60 cents and commuter rail or boat services for 50 percent off the regular full fare and for a discounted fare to Logan Airport. Customers who are blind/visually impaired ride all MBTA services for free with a Blind Access CharlieCard. Discounted rides and passes require a Transportation Access Pass (TAP) CharlieCard. The TAP CharlieCard is available at the Reduced Fare CharlieCard Office located at Back Bay Station, which is across the street from the Copley Place Mall, linking to all hotels and the Hynes Convention Center. The office is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Call 617-222-5976, 617-222-5854 (TTY), or 800-543-8287 for more information. To obtain a TAP CharlieCard for the first time, you will need to complete a Transportation Access Pass Application, which can be found on the MBTA’s web site, and submit it upon arrival in Boston.

THE RIDE is the MBTA’s paratransit program. It provides door-to door transportation to eligible people who cannot use general public transportation all or some of the time, because of a physical, cognitive, or mental disability. THE RIDE is a shared service in which passengers travel with other people. Lift-equipped vans are used to serve persons with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs and scooters. THE RIDE operates 365 days a year from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. The local one-way fare for each registered passenger is $2. If traveling with a Personal Care Assistant, the PCA is not charged a fare. Some documentation is required. Attendees can make advance arrangements by calling 800-533-6282 in-state toll free or 617-222-5123 or TTY (617) 222-5415. To use THE RIDE, individuals must complete and submit an application, which can be found on the MBTA’s web site. Per ADA regulations, MBTA is allowed 21 days to process applications upon receipt. Signed applications must be mailed to the MBTA Office for Transportation Access and cannot be submitted online. Individuals will be notified by U.S. mail.

The Boston Center for Independent Living (http://bostoncil.org; 617-338-6665; toll free 866-338-808; 5TTY: 617-338-6662) web site has online resources, FAQ section, information and referral, and technology resources.

Scooter and wheelchair 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.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement has an online guide, “New Horizons: Information for the Air Traveler with a Disability.” This site also explains how to file a complaint with the department.

A general resource is Barrier-Free Travels: A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Wheelers and Slow Walkers (2009, 3rd 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 selected hotel 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 direction. 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.

Sheraton Boston

Entrances: The hotel’s entrances on Boylston and Dalton Streets are accessible. The Shops at Prudential Center mall entrance is also in compliance.

Parking: Accessible valet parking spaces are available.

Guest rooms: The hotel has 29 accessible rooms, with four accessible suites.

Restaurants: Café Apropos and Sidebar & Grille are both accessible.

Boston Marriott Copley Place

Entrances: The hotel’s two Huntington Avenue and Valet Garage entrances are accessible and in compliance with ADA regulations. The second floor Copley Place Mall entrance is in compliance as well.

Parking: Copley Place Valet Parking is available at the Huntington Street entrance. The Copley Place Self-Park facility has 40 accessible spots.

Guest rooms: The hotel has 30 king and 12 double/double accessible rooms.

Meeting rooms: Meeting rooms are located on the third, fourth, and fifth floors. All are accessible by elevator. All entrances to meeting rooms are at least 32 inches wide.

Restaurants: Champions Bar & Restaurant and Starbucks Coffee are accessible.

Westin Copley Place Boston

Entrance: The hotel’s main entrance at Huntington Avenue is accessible with power doors.

Parking: Valet-only parking is available, with several accessible parking spaces.

Guest rooms: The hotel has 56 wheelchair accessible rooms located on the eighth and ninth floors. Eight of the rooms have roll-in showers.

Meeting rooms: Accessible routes of travel serve all meeting rooms. Rooms have a minimum of 32 inches clear width open space. The hotel has one 24-foot portable ramp, which can be installed in meeting rooms upon request.

Restaurants: The hotel’s restaurants and lounges are all accessible: Bar 10, Osushi, and Huntington’s on the lobby level, the Palm Restaurant by the main entrance, and Turner Fisheries separate street-level entrance are all accessible.

Boston Park Plaza

Entrances: The hotel’s entrances on Arlington Street and Columbus Avenue are accessible.

Parking: Valet-only parking is available, with several accessible parking spaces.

Guest rooms: The hotel has 46 ADA-equipped guest rooms.

Restaurants: The hotel’s nine restaurants and lounges located on-property are all accessible.

Sharon K. Tune is the convention director for the AHA.