While a lot of folks complain that there are not enough accessible cabins on cruise ships, the ICCL disagrees. In fact according to the preliminary results of their recent survey, the majority of accessible cabins available are not being used by disabled passengers. For the purpose of this survey, the ICCL defines disabled passengers as full- or part-time wheelchair-users.
Although their results indicate a steady increase in the number of disabled passengers, preliminary results indicate that less than 3% of the passengers used a wheelchair full or part time. It also indicates that the majority of wheelchair-users did not use an accessible cabin. In fact only 36% of wheelchair-users used an accessible cabin.
This could be for a number of reasons, including the fact that some people just use a wheelchair for boarding or for distance so they do not need an accessible cabin. Of course it could be also due to the fact that these passengers were unable to reserve an accessible cabin in the category of their choice because it was occupied by an able-bodied person. Still, according to the survey results from the first half of 2005, 16,686 accessible cabins were not occupied by wheelchair users.
The same survey noted that most of the ships sailed with all of their cabins occupied. So we have to assume that those 16,686 cabins were occupied by able-bodied passengers. Perhaps that is why nearly 4,000 wheelchair-users did not occupy accessible cabins — because they were being occupied by able-bodied passengers.
The survey was conducted in response to the Access Board’s call for comments on the proposed rules for passenger vessels. It is posted in the public comments section on the Access Board website.
It’s ICCL’s contention that the proposed scoping requirements for the number of accessible cabins are excessive. The proposed requirements for the number of accessible cabins mirror those of the ADAAG, and are roughly 2.5% of the total cabins.
Interestingly enough, that’s approximately the same percentage of wheelchair-users recorded in the ICCL survey. But ICCL claims that since not all of the accessible cabins are currently being used by disabled passengers, then the required number of accessible cabins should be significantly less.
Will the Access Board listen to the ICCL? Only time will tell.