Members of the General Assembly and Conference Services staff have traveled to Providence with representatives from the Accessibilities Services Committee. The team completed a survey of the convention center, the surrounding streets and sidewalks, our hotels, and other relevant venues and services. They evaluated navigation and curb cutouts, as well as doors and signage.
The T.F. Green International Airport is a small airport serving all of Rhode Island. It is about a 20 minute cab ride from the convention center and hotels, costs $37 (before tip); other ground transportation—see shuttle services. Accessible transportation: wheelchair taxis.
Passenger Pick-Up and Drop-Off: All passenger pick-up (lower level) and drop-off (upper level) locations are accessible to airport entrances. Skycap service is located on the upper level to assist with baggage.
Wheelchairs: Contact skycap stations or airline ticket agents on the upper level for wheelchairs and assistance. Your airline should be notified in advance if you require any special assistance.
Elevators: There are elevators located in the main terminal for easy access.
Restrooms: There are handicapped accessible restrooms throughout the terminals.
Telecommunication Devices: Telecommunications devices are available for the visually and hearing challenged individuals.
Hilton Providence—front revolving door has a button to slow it down; no automatic door although door staffed. Elevators are standard size. Registration area is ¾ height, associates said they would come around to assist someone using a scooter or wheelchair. They have 7 accessible rooms, 12 shower seats, 1 raised toilet seat, 4 roll-in showers. The Hilton will house some breakout rooms. It is adjacent to the convention center.
Omni Providence—Registration area all high, have clipboards, would lean over or come around to assist. Elevators good size. 18 accessible rooms (we have 15 reserved in our block, they hold onto 3 for non-GA attendees); 8 with roll-in showers all in West Tower. Pool has lift. When we were there, they were using a strong automatic air freshner, and said they would turn it off 15 days prior to our arrival. The Omni will be the UUA Headquarters hotel, and will house evening entertainment and breakouts. It is adjacent and connected to the convention center.
Courtyard Marriott—up the street from convention center, the Marriott is perched on a steep hill. Registration is high with an accessible shelf. 12 accessible rooms, 6 with King beds and roll-in showers, 6 with two double beds and tubs with bars all far from the elevators. Lobby Bistro serves gluten free choices. Free Wi-Fi throughout hotel; most rooms have mini-frig and microwave. Pool and hot tub have self-operated lifts.
Providence Biltmore—a historic hotel so, while esthetically charming, it has many challenges. Registration has a lower area to accommodate someone using a wheelchair or scooter. Some function rooms have steps and can be accessed through a pantry hallway, service elevator or a lift. Currently remodeling room 309 to be accessible. Unsure how many accessible rooms they currently have.
Rhode Island School of Design at 15 Westminster (Dorms)—in an old bank building a few blocks from the convention center (quoted a 7 minute walk). Student center, cafeteria, library on first level are all accessible. Rooms on upper level are a mix of doubles, triples and quads with 1 ½ bathrooms, kitchenettes and common living room. Accessible single room has a hotplate and roll-in shower.
Rhode Island School of Design at Colonial Apartments (Apartments)—a bus ride from the center of Providence, the building and none of the apartments are accessible.
Brown University at Vartan Gregorian Quad (Dorms)—on a hill, a bus or trolley ride from the center of Providence these are classic dorms with bathrooms in hallway with one accessible shower per bathroom. Elevators are small but deep. Each floor has a lounge with a stove and refrigerator. Free Wi-Fi with guest code. Laundry facility in basement.
Map of convention center and hotels
The Rhode Island Convention Center is located in downtown Providence, adjacent to many hotels and restaurants. A five story building with enclosed walkway connections on the third level with the Omni Hotel and the Dunkin Donut Center (arena), the convention center meeting spaces are chiefly located on the first, third and fifth floors. In general, all restrooms are relatively small with 5-7 stalls and only 1-2 accessible stalls. All restrooms have doors from the halls that have to be opened to access. Inside most restrooms, large trash cans block the baby changing tables which are right inside the doors and could pose an accessibility concerns if someone is using the changing table (pulling it down) and/or moves the trash can.
First Floor—street level—has no automatic door (to be confirmed) from the outside. The open space is multi-level with a ramp going to the far end where a breakout session will be created using pipe and drape. The sole accessible First Aid Station is located in this area on the first floor. Convention Center staffs the first aid with a nurse at all times when events are occurring in hall. There is a second First Aid station behind the house on the third level in “Command Center”. There are two elevators going up to meeting spaces; there is one ladies room and one men’s room with one accessible stall in each. All men’s rooms have the capacity to close off the urinals to create gender neutral bathrooms.
Second floor is administrative offices for the Convention Center.
Third floor—Exhibit Hall will be Halls A & B; Halls C & D will be breakout rooms. There are two banks of elevators in main corridor outside Exhibit Halls, one in an alcove which creates an access issue. Because the exhibit halls are smaller than GA has had in previous sites, UU Expressway (UUA offices and affiliates) will display in this main thoroughfare. There is a lot of natural light, and the space is quite open. Also locate at one end on this level near the walkway connection to the Omni Hotel is the Metro Café with free Wi-Fi; convention center will add additional seating outside the enclosed café area to accommodate people using scooters and wheelchairs as negotiating inside the café is tight. Accessibility Services will have its table at the opposite end of the floor from the café, outside Exhibit Hall A. Scooter storage will be in same area, as security will be present for all displays. At this same end is the connection to the Dunkin Donut Center arena where Plenary will occur. There are no automatic doors at either end of a fairly long and sometimes steep, carpeted ramp leading to the lobby of “The Dunk” (you’re literally going from the third level of the convention to the street level of the arena). The loading docks behind the exhibit halls are union run.
Fourth floor—Terrace Café, with free Wi-Fi, is on the fourth floor mezzanine type floor accessible by stairs from fifth floor and elevators, with an additional lift up 6 steps. This lift would have to be staffed as it is keyed for operation. The lift is designed to accommodate someone using a wheelchair, and it’s doubtful it could accommodate someone using a scooter, and very unlikely someone using a 4 wheel scooter. Weight limit is 495 pounds.
Fifth floor—Registration, Credentialing located in lobby area; rest of space is for workshops and offices.
Chaplain office: 550A
On Site registration: 558A
Volunteer office: West Lounge, 528 (with bathrooms inside office area, would be open to public when offices are open)
Piano room: 556
Throughout the fifth floor there are posted emergency exit signs for people with disabilities, with arrows directing people to the rear corner of the floor where there’s a ramp leading outside.
Parking—4th floor of North garage connects to 3rd level of convention center.
Dunkin Donut Center—The Dunk—will house plenary session, worship services, Ware Lecture and all other main events. Access from Convention Center is described above; access from street level through several marked doors. There are two ways to physically access the arena.
From lobby level, go in ramped labeled entrances at sections 101, 106, 108, 122, and 124 and there are open sections for people using scooters and wheelchairs. I am unaware if they would set up chairs for companion seating, these sections can accommodate 34 people using scooters and wheelchairs. Seating chart. This level is up from the floor and would also be used by general admission. Accessing general admission seats is steep and may present a challenge for our aging population especially when house lights are dimmed. All restrooms are accessible on this lobby level. I noted that many seats at the end of each row are designated for a person with disabilities, but it’s unknown why! It’s a standard seat! This may present some confusion. I was also told there will be turnstiles set up at lobby entrances to rink; this may present a barrier to some.
Floor level—delegates will be seated on the floor. Access for people using scooters and wheelchairs is by the elevator in the lobby, down one level. The elevator will be staffed and only people using mobility equipment and special needs will be allowed to use elevators. Once off the elevator, follow hallway to one entrance to access rink, ramped over the ice rink edge. Cut outs will be available for people to sit on the floor area. Ambulatory people will access floor level from main lobby and walk down the steps into the rink area. It is unclear whether there’s access to accessible restrooms on this floor level. The stage will be at far end of rink. Stage access is being discussed because a ramp would need to come out from side and turn toward audience as rink would not accommodate it straight out to the side.
The Dunk is looped! There are 12 receivers which will allow auditory access to all events. If there are requests for more than 12, they will rent more! There are two family bathrooms and two first aid stations with ability to transport.
The pharmacy nearest the convention center is CVS, 100 Francis Street (map).
The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) provides bus and trolley transportation in the Providence area.
RIPTA is striving to become a model for accessible public transportation, offering service that is safe, dependable and inclusive to all our customers, including those with disabilities.
Every bus has a kneeler and a wheelchair lift or ramp, and drivers are trained to help customers secure their wheelchairs safely. Customers with disabilities should board first and exit last.
All RIPTA buses are accessible.
All RIPTA buses and trolleys are equipped with:
All customers have the right to use accessibility equipment (such as ramps and lifts).
Service animals are always welcome on RIPTA vehicles and property.
The public witness event will be planned for maximum accessibility inclusion of all General Assembly attendees.
WaterFire—a public event in Providence every Saturday evening (June 28th while we’re at GA), WaterFire has several accessible viewing points along the river but no designated seating area. They also offer a water-taxi for people with disabilities.
Wheelchair accessible taxis in Providence.
The normal high temperature in Providence in late June is 83°F. The probability of precipitation is around 10%; attendees should be prepared for high humidity. The Accessibilities Services table in the convention center will have a limited supply of plastic caps and ponchos available for sale in case of rain.
For more information contact generalassembly @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Tuesday, June 10, 2014.
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