Social Service Establishments, Transient Lodging and Dormitories
Summary of Comments
We generally support the Department’s approach toward social service establishments, transient lodging and dorms. We fully support treating social service establishments and dorms like residential facilities. However, we do encourage adding a requirement that dorms offer a variety of options for accessible bathing. We support adding four additional factors to length of stay in order to distinguish between places of lodging, transient lodging and residential dwellings. We encourage clarification that time-shares, condominiums and corporate hotels which do meet the definition of “place of lodging” are covered by the proposed requirements for places of lodging.
Comments on social service establishments—transient lodging—dorms
We agree that it makes sense to treat social service establishments like residential facilities since that is in fact how these establishments function in practice. In addition, we support setting one accessibility standard for all social service establishments to follow. Although the residential requirements are less demanding in some instances than the revised transient lodging requirements, we think it is likely that the existence of one clear standard will result in an overall increased level of accessibility in social service establishments by eliminating the confusion and inaction sometimes caused by the current existence of multiple conflicting requirements.
Although there are some similarities between dorms at places of education and transient lodging, we also firmly support classifying all dormitories as residential dwelling units. While transient lodging provides a few features which are more stringent than residential dwelling units (minimum number of roll-in showers, vanity countertop space, and no exception for elevators required by Title II), there are far more reasons to consider dorms under the residential dwelling unit category. As a practical matter, dorms at places of public education are homes for the students who live in them. Most full-time students who participate in their school’s on-campus housing program spend more days of the year living in a dorm than in any other place. In addition, many colleges have begun building apartment-style dorms. Treating these dorms as residential dwelling units will ensure that students with disabilities have access to all rooms in their assigned unit, not just to the sleeping room and kitchenette or wet bar. The residential dwelling unit standards will require turning space in every room, and fully accessible units in alterations. Comparable units can be installed in new facilities rather than altering old ones to be partially accessible. The residential dwelling unit provisions were written with larger public housing and colleges in mind.
Due to the wide range of needs among people with disabilities, the Department must require dorms to offer a variety of options for accessible bathing. Most importantly, the Department must require that all floors of buildings which contain dorms to be accessible, not just the first floor. Such a requirement emphasizes the importance of full community integration and visitability.
In addition, we support the decision to consider four additional factors besides length of stay when distinguishing between places of lodging, transient lodging, and residential dwellings, by using length of stay in combination with the other four factors discussed in the proposed definition of place of lodging. As further clarification, we suggest including a statement which makes clear that time-shares, condominiums, and corporate hotels which do meet the definition of “place of lodging” be covered by the proposed requirements for places of lodging.