W. C. Duke Associates: the dot com for disability etiquette

escorting activity










Bernard Samuels, wearing the goggles, is being escorted and oriented to his now unfamiliar surroundings by Joseph Larkin, owner of a New Mexico Microtel.







Microtel Training Employees
to be Sensitive to the Disabled

by Sheila Poole


Bernard Samuel was in unfamiliar territory. Although he had walked the hallways at the Microtel Inns & Suites on Corporate Boulevard for two months now, this time he had to step carefully — guided by a colleague — to avoid bumping into walls and chairs. Samuel, a senior front desk representative, wore black goggles that simulated the effects of glaucoma. “I used to walk freely, but now I'm cautious,” he said. “This makes you take a whole different view of everything.”


For a few minutes Wednesday, employees paired up and led each other around the hotel. Some were blindfolded. Others wore goggles to impair their vision. Still others had various types of hearing or mobility impairments. The exercise, in which more than a dozen general managers, workers, and owners participated, was designed to teach Microtel employees to be more aware of the needs of guests with disabilities.


“Attempts have been mixed on what the lodging industry has done,” said Cheryl T. Duke, president of W. C. Duke Associates, Inc. of Woodford, VA, and one of the program's facilitators. “It varies from company to company, from management company to management company and from franchisee to franchisee.”