Today, my mom, friends and I traveled to Fairmont Copley Plaza for a town hall meeting held by the United States Access Board. The Board travels to a different city each year for a dialogue with the public on accessibility and the work of the Board. I was pleased to find this eloquent hotel wheelchair friendly and accessible, with the exception of the customer service counters being too high.

We pulled our van in front of the main entrance for valet parking. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a very courteous, polite and friendly doorman whose name is John. The wheelchair access to the sidewalk is a few feet from where we parked so John safely guided me on the street to the wheelchair access.

John kindly held the entry doors open for all of us, as he does for all guests so there is no need for automatic doors at this hotel because a doorman is always here to help.

John then introduced us to Catie Copley. Catie, a beautiful black lab is a retired guide dog who is stationed near the St. James entrance where she relaxes in her cozy bed. Catie is very friendly and kind; she adds a home-like feeling to this fancy hotel. Jim, the concierge takes Catie home to spend every night with his family.

We then approached the Registration Counter. This counter is not wheelchair accessible for it is too high for a person in a wheelchair to reach. We spoke with a very courteous, kind employee and asked if there is an accessible customer service counter; he told us no, but one would be a good idea to have for their wheelchair-seated guests.

We pointed out it would be easy to do if they removed the side door and placed a lower countertop there. Or they could easily place a small drop down counter so a wheelchair-seated guest can complete their hotel business. He agreed and said he would mention it to his manager.

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We then asked him about the accessibility of the hotel. He graciously told us the this hotel has 13 wheelchair accessible guest rooms; 3 have roll-in showers; all have Braille above the room number; all have lower peep holes for a wheeler to see who’s at the door; a few rooms have door bells where a light in the room lights up to let the hearing impaired know someone is at the door; the closets have a lower rack to hang clothes; and the beds are of a good height for transferring. I was pleased to hear this eloquent hotel has everything to fit the needs of persons with different disabilities!

We then headed to The Fairmont Store, the hotel’s gift shop. The shop has plenty of space for me to wheel my chair between the items it has for sale. I bought a book about Catie Copley. It’s a great story about how Catie couldn’t be a seeing eye dog any longer for her eyesight isn’t good. She has done other imporant things in her life by helping guests in the hotel. The gift shop’s cashier counter is not wheelchair accessible for it is too high for me to reach.

I then headed to the Concierge desk to get my Catie Copley book autographed with Catie’s dog prints. The Concierge countertop is not wheelchair accessible either for it is also too high. I was able to reach it today for I was in my Permobil C350 Power Chair and my seat can elevate. The concierge was very helpful, kind and hospitable.

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The lobby is spacious with plenty of room to maneuver my chair; a beautiful staircase leads from the lobby to the level below and above. All floors are accessible via a large elevator that easily fits my chair and friends.

A Grand Ballroom is located off the lobby. There are some stairs to access it but to my delight; I saw this hotel installed a wheelchair lift to get me into the ballroom. The ballroom is large with plenty of room to fit many wheelers. My mom and dad attended a wedding here and said it is magnificent.

The US Access Board meeting was held in the Venetian Room. It is a large spacious room that looks like a ballroom too. Members of the US Access Board sat at a table on a platform that has one step to access. Some of the board members are in wheelchairs but access was not a problem for a ramp was placed at the end. A large screen TV displayed all words being said; while a woman signed all being said; the hearing impaired would know all that was said.

My mom, friends and I introduced ourselves to the members of the United States Access Board; we explained we filed a complaint with the Board in January of 2009 regarding the Taunton, New Bedford, Fall River and Plymouth U.S. Post Offices not being wheelchair accessible at all. We gave them a copy of what we filed with them. They were very nice and told us they will look into our complaint. Kenny & Company believe all U.S. Post Offices should provide equal and full access to all citizens. And being an historical building is NO EXCUSE for many U.S. Post Offices that are historical buildings are fully accessible to all!

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A business center is located right off the lobby. It has computers with high speed i nternet. All computers are wheelchair accessible and at a good height for me to access a computer while seated in my wheelchair.

The restrooms are perfecto! They are located off a hallway in the lobby. Entering and exiting the restroom is easy for the doors are automatic and open with a push of a button. The restrooms are luxurious, spacious, wheelchair accessible and fully ADA compliant. The accessible sink is of a perfect height; the faucet and soap dispenser are within my reach. The hand towels are fresh linens. The pipes under the accessible sink are covered which is a new ADA requirement.

As were we ready to leave, we noticed a lot of commotion in front of the hotel. We then discovered it was the filming of a scene in the movie, ‘The Company Men’ which will be coming in January of 2011. ‘The Company Men directed by John Wells stars Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones.

Wow!! I thought how exciting it would be to meet these actors. Access to the scene is easy and I could wheel very close. I didn’t get to meet any of the stars but found it very exciting!

I give Fairmont Copley Plaza FOUR STARS for wheelchair accessibility. In order to earn the Fifth Star, they would simply need to lower a section of the Registration Counter, Concierge Counter and Gift Shop cashier counter to a wheelchair accessible height so all guests have equal full access.

All the employees deserve Five Stars for their sensitivity, respect and kindness. John, the doorman and Catie Copley both get Five Plus Stars for being extra nice:>)