Captions Available, But Only If You Use A Wheelchair

My trip this past week was broken into multiple segments so we could avoid fatigue. We drove partway to our destination then stayed the night at a hotel so we could be rested and ready to go the rest of the way in the morning.  We had booked the room by phone earlier.  Booking was simple; we wanted a room with a king bed.  No other requests were necessary and per the law I did not need to tell the hotel I was bringing my service dog.

We checked in easily and quickly found our room.  As we put out our luggage and got what we needed for the night we turned on the TV, hoping to see news of what seemed to have been a major incident on the highway.  Sure enough there was a shot of a local reporter doing a standup near the emergency vehicles.  There was one thing missing, though…captions.  I grabbed the TV remote and pushed the button marked “CC”. Nothing happened.  I pushed it again and yet again.  Still nothing. Then I tried the setup button. Nothing happened there either.

From past experience I know some hotels replace the remotes that come with the TVs with generic remotes.  Why? A hotel manager explained that guests like to steal the original remotes.  Wouldn’t they also steal the generic ones, I wondered?

We went down to talk with the desk clerk, who smiled shyly and let us know she had no clue about captioning. She gave us a different remote that looked identical to the one we’d tried but we went back to the room to try again. No surprise that the results were the same.

Back down to the desk where the clerk shrugged and offered to text her manager, but with the caveat that the manager doesn’t answer after 9 pm.

With that we gave up knowing that there would be no TV watching that evening.  We asked for a wake-up call and returned the room.

We awoke before the phone call.  While we got ready the phone began to ring. We answered, but the handset was broken and there was no way to talk. We hung up the phone and it continued to ring and ring and ring until we unplugged it.  It seemed this hotel had technical challenges.

We went down to speak to a manager, a desk clerk, anyone who might understand our unhappiness with the property.  What we found instead was a “manager” who not only did not understand our unhappiness, she did not understand disability law or, for that matter, disabilities.

I explained to the woman that we needed to have a way to enable the captions on the TV. She told us there were caption-enabled TVs in the hotel, but only in the “handicapped accessible” rooms.  Well, boggle my mind!  This hotel management believes if you need captions you must have a mobility disability.  Can you imagine booking the accessible rooms just because you need captions?  What happens when people who really need the accessibility features those rooms (supposedly) afford try to check in?  Can you imagine finding out you can’t get an accessible room because a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person has it just so they can watch TV? 

How did the hotel management even assume this twisted logic?

I told the manager that the law requires all places of lodging renting out more than 5 rooms to provide captions on any TVs that can be captioned. The manager insisted I was incorrect turned to the person with me and said, “I won’t talk to her anymore.”

I was flabbergasted.  I went back to the room intent on packing up and composing a letter of complaint to the Department of Justice.  My travelling companion returned to the room and handed me the bill; we owed nothing.  The manager decided it was easier to be rid of us than to argue with us, and comped the room.

I still plan to write that letter.

Image result for photo of tv captioning



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