Access Board Releases Draft Guidelines for Passenger Vessels

Good news! The US Access Board just released the draft guidelines for passenger vessels (cruise ships).

Why is this so important to travelers? Well, here’s the scoop.

Basically the ADA mandates accessibility on cruise ships (although a 2005 Supreme Court ruling will hopefully cement this long-held DOJ opinion); however currently there are no architectural guidelines for physical accessibility on cruise ships. In other words, there is no code that says doorways have to be a certain width or a certain number of cabins have to have roll-in showers. That’s why access varies so much from ship to ship — because there are no standards.

We do have such standards for lodging facilities on dry land. They are called the ADAAG. The US Access Board is in charge of creating and updating these guidelines. To that end they appointed a 21-member Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee (PVAAC) to review the ADAAG and make recommendations as to which parts of it can (and can’t) be applied to passenger vessels. The PVAAC finished their work and released their recommendations to the US Access Board in December 2000. The Access Board then carefully reviewed those recommendations and issued the draft guidelines on Nov. 26, 2005.

That’s pretty much where we are now. So what’s next? Well, I’m glad you asked, because that’s where you come in. The US Access Board is now accepting public comments on the draft guidelines through March 28, 2005. So read the draft guidelines and then tell the US Access Board what you do or don’t like. It’s important to note that the US Access Board will craft the final guidelines based on the public comments received.

Yes, I know the draft guidelines are cumbersome, buy you (the traveling public) have a real voice here. The US Access Board has a long history of *really* listening to consumer comments. You can be darn sure that the cruise lines are going to comment on the draft guidelines, so people with disabilities need to tell their side of the story too.

Click on the title of this blog entry to read the draft guidelines. And check back here to read my public comments.

Let your voice be heard.