Access Board Extends Public Comment Deadline on Passenger Vessels

Just when I thought there was actually some glimmer of hope to actually getting some cruise ship access regulations on the books in my lifetime, I got this fateful e-mail from the Access Board.

“The Access Board is extending the deadline for public comments on accessibility guidelines it has proposed for passenger vessels an additional 120 days. Comments on the guidelines, which were released in June, are now due on January 24, 2014, instead of September 23, 2013, as indicated in a published notice. The extension will more than double the allotted time for comments and is responsive to concerns raised by interested parties on the need for additional time to review the rule and prepare feedback, including responses to questions posed by the Board.”

So of course I decided to check out the comments that have been received. There were only a handful, and besides mine there were a few from consumers, as well as three from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The consumer letters all addressed access issues. Can you guess what the CLIA letters addressed? Well…drumroll… they all asked for a 120 day extension to fully evaluate the proposed regulations. So here we are back at square one.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with CLIA, it is the world´s largest cruise association and it focuses on the “promotion and growth of the cruise industry.” I’m sure they will come up with lengthy comments and encourage the Access Board to adopt less restrictive regulations. After all, the cruise lines are CLIA members.

In all fairness, I think the Access Board should hear both sides. And since “disabled passengers” don’t have an association to speak for them, it’s up to each and every one of you. That’s right – you!

So if you’ve even taken a cruise and had a problem, or are thinking about taking one but can’t because of an access issue, then it’s time to let the Access Board know. As long as the regulations are going to be delayed, you may as well have a voice in the outcome.

 

DOJ Flooded with Public Comments

Well in what’s probably the shortest public comment period ever — just two weeks — the Department of Justice (DOJ) has received 1358 comments regarding the pool and spa access regulations. Of course the lodging industry was well represented, with a good number of properties sending in form letters penned by their lobbyists. That comes as no surprise; after all that’s what they pay their lobbyists for.

But here’s the really cool part. Over 55% of those comments were from people with disabilities, their friends, family members, Joe Public and grass roots disability focused organizations. Most of those comments were pretty direct, and some even contained personal stories about what it feels like to be denied access, and telling the DOJ that they just want to swim and enjoy the water like everyone else. This is great, not only because of the volume of the response, but because of the tone. No form letters there! Continue reading