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The following is not one of my normal blogs, but I felt that it was of enough significance to post it here for your information. As some of you know, I am not a great aficionado when it comes to floating around the oceans in a hotel room for a week at a time, or perhaps even longer. I like my hotel rooms to be on solid ground, without difficulty getting from the door of the hotel into whatever environment is outside.
After reading news stories in recent months about fires and loss of power on several cruise ships at various locations around the world, I think my aversion to cruising as a sport is justified. However, I have been proven wrong about other issues in the past and will withhold judgment for a while longer. I understand that there are cruise lines that have made great strides when it comes to accessibility, but I'm still not convinced that cruising is the right pastime for me.
With that said, I am simply reposting the announcement from the United States Access Board regarding the work they have been doing that will eventually require all new and remodeled cruise ships to become fully accessible under the ADA. If you have been cruising in the past, whether or not you have encountered difficulties, it might be worth your time to provide input about how those ships can become even better for those of us who have significant disabilities.
Thanks for taking a few minutes to do that, and here is the Access Board announcement:
U.S. Access Board Releases Proposed Guidelines for Passenger Vessels
The U.S. Access Board has released for public comment proposed guidelines for passenger vessels. Developed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the guidelines provide design criteria for large vessels when newly constructed or altered to ensure that they are accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines address various features of vessel accessibility and include provisions for onboard routes, vertical access between decks, doorways and coamings, toilet rooms, guest rooms, alarm systems, and other spaces and elements used by passengers.
“The Board is pleased to unveil proposed guidelines that will ensure access to vessels for passengers with disabilities,” states Access Board Chair Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA. “We know from experience that barriers to accessibility are often due to a lack of clear and detailed design guidance, and this rule will fill a long-standing gap in making passenger vessels accessible to all.”
As proposed, the guidelines would apply to cruise ships and other vessels that carry over 150 passengers or at least 50 overnight passengers. They also cover ferries designed to carry 100 or more passengers and tenders allowed to carry 60 or more passengers. The Board is not proposing requirements for smaller vessels due to design challenges, space constraints, and other factors. The guidelines would apply to newly built or altered vessels.
In laying the groundwork for this effort, the Board conducted research on the feasibility and impacts of integrating accessibility into the design of vessels. This information includes case studies on vessels of various types and sizes, examination of design solutions to identified design and engineering constraints, and cost and impact analyses. The Board previously released advance drafts of the guidelines for comment which were based on recommendations from an advisory panel organized by the Board, the Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee.
The Board is developing these guidelines under the ADA, which requires access to transportation and other services and to places of public accommodation. Under the law, the Board is responsible for developing minimum guidelines covering access to transportation systems and to the built environment. The vessel guidelines, once finalized, will join the Board’s ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Vehicles, which are currently being updated, and its ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities. The new guidelines will be used by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Justice in setting mandatory standards.
The rule, which will be published in the Federal Register next week, can be accessed now on the Board’s website or through the Federal government's rulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov. Instructions for submitting comments, which are due within 90 days from publication in the Federal Register, are included in the proposal. The Board will hold a public hearing on the guidelines in Washington, D.C. on July 10.
Visit the passenger vessels homepage on the Board’s website for more information or contact Paul Beatty at firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 272-0012 (v), or (202) 272-0072 (TTY).
Public Hearing on the Proposed Guidelines for Passenger Vessels
July 10, 9:30 – Noon
Access Board Conference Room
1331 F Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20004
© 2013 Michael Collins