How hotels can sensitively encourage differently abled people:
“The problem is not how to wipe out all differences, but how to unite with all differences intact.” — Rabindranath Tagore.
Imagine a garden filled with flowers but all of the same colour and the same variety. And now, take a moment and imagine a garden, filled with flowers of various hues and varieties. What is the image that stays in your mind and is more picturesque? The garden with myriad colours and patterns, right? The difference in each and every one of us is what makes us unique.
When we truly accept each and every one of us - and unite with all our differences intact, we make the world a much better place. Take the example of the Stadthaus hotel in Hamburg - a unique concept which is the dream child of the parents of eight differently abled classmates, who wanted to provide their children with the opportunity of a solid work-and-live lifestyle.
The Stadthaus Hotel is Europe’s first “integration hotel”, and has about twelve employees who have issues with cognitive, physical or social disabilities. This unique hotel boasts of an 80 to 100% occupancy rate and should definitely be on your list of places to go if you’re visiting Hamburg.
It’s not only international hotels, but even in India, there are hotels which have opened up to the concept of differently-abled employees. Take the example of “Dialogue in the dark” in Hyderabad, which offers a unique experience. The dining room is completely unlit, and you are presented with a surprise vegetarian or non-vegetarian meal, depending upon your choice.
All the servers here are visually challenged, and tasting food in complete darkness is a gastronomic experience you cannot replicate. With only the aroma and taste buds as your reference, you can taste both local and global cuisine. This kind of an experience not only makes you appreciate the things we take for granted, but also the struggles the differently abled face every day.
Whether it is commuting or communicating, life is so much easier for us as compared to the differently abled. As a society, as well as in the workplace and every industry including hospitality, it is absolutely important to integrate people with disabilities as well.
Not only does giving equal opportunities to the differently abled, help make them a part of the social mainstream, it also helps make our future generation more compassionate and understanding as well. Here are some ways the hospitality and hotel industry can make their surroundings more diverse. Let’s look at some ways to give back to society by helping people with disabilities earn and have great careers and lead a life of dignity and understanding.
- Adopting universal designs - By specifically adopting universal designs and considering the extra needs of the speech impaired, visually impaired and hearing impaired, as well as those visually, hearing and speech impaired as well as the people who are currently battling physical and mental disabilities. For example, making sure the washrooms are differently-abled friendly and building specialized ramps for people in wheelchairs.
- By committing to ensure equal education and training - We do not realize how much we take education and equal opportunities for granted. By ensuring that differently abled individuals as well get the same opportunity, we can ensure that we are creating a differently-abled-friendly environment in the organisation.
- Developing and implementing an equal opportunity employment policy - By making all employees understand that hiring does not necessarily mean filling a quota, but enabling individuals from all walks of life, we can ensure that we are making our workplace much more differently-abled-friendly.
- Investing in awareness training and sensitising employees - By investing in etiquette and awareness training, the hospitality industry can help sensitise both peers and the guests at the same time. By ensuring sensitivity, you can help members in your team care and ensure that their differently-abled colleagues or guests receive the utmost possible help and support they need.
We at The Residency take pride and great satisfaction in ensuring that all our hotels are completely differently-abled friendly. We believe that every person is unique and special in their own way and the environment in all our hotels ensures that.
With over 27 million disabled people, India does have a long way to go, before we can be called a disabled-friendly nation, and that is why we at The Residency are trying to create an environment in our organisation that not only allows the cognitively, physically or socially disabled happy, but also thrive.
So today, let us all take a pledge to make a beginning, in whatever way we can to make our systems more operationally efficient as well as disabled-friendly, and make them a part of the New India dream.
Standing true to our core ethos, we at the Residency are a hotel brand providing genuinely warm, caring, consistent, cultured hospitality for the evolving guest. From airport pick up to departure and every moment in between, we are proud to deliver an authentic hospitality experience. Our philosophy of hospitality with heart ensures that ‘tradition’ meets ‘tomorrow’ to deliver memorable experiences.
We are Caring, Anticipating, Inspiring and Evolving.