It’s no secret that we’re seeing an increase in service animals and emotional support animals here in the US. There are many reasons for this, but the “card mills” which sell service animal certifications, leashes and vests on the internet have definitely helped increase the number of pets that now “claim” service animal status. And for what it’s worth – save your money, as no certifications are required in the US; in fact it’s illegal to ask for them. Continue reading
Today marks 28 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. And although some folks lament that we still have access problems, I prefer to look at how far we have come on this day. Although accessible travel certainly wasn’t a priority back in the beginning, it has gained momentum over the years. And that’s not just because we don’t institutionalize folks who are disabled any more — it’s also because some hearty souls paved the way “back in the day.” And because they were my friends, I’d like to give credit where credit is due on this ADA anniversary. Continue reading
Airlines for America (AIA) — an airline industry group — recently announced that it had submitted a 222-page document to the Department of Transportation (DOT), in response to a call for input on possible revisions to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The group’s response included the suggestion that the DOT narrow the definition of “service animal” to “trained dogs that perform a task or work for an individual with a disability.” The document also included the recommendation that airlines should not be required to allow emotional support animals (ESOs) on board. Continue reading
On the heels of Frank Gardner’s nearly two-hour wait to be reunited with his wheelchair at Heathrow International Airport, the British government is considering strengthening their almost non-existent accessible air travel regulations. In the US, disabled passengers are entitled to “prompt” deplaning, which according to the Department of Transportation means “as soon as the rest of the passenger are deplaned”. Unfortunately that’s not the way things work in the UK. Continue reading
Wheelchair damage – or the potential for it – is something that many air travelers face every time they board a plane. And although we can’t totally stop the damage (wouldn’t that be nice?) we can enact regulations regarding how airlines report such damage, so consumers can choose the airline with the best record. Continue reading
Ever since the Advance Imaging Technologies (AIT) full body scanners were introduced at Airports across America, travelers have had the opportunity to “opt-out” of what some considered an invasion of their privacy, and instead have a manual pat down. That regulation was recently modified by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in a Privacy Impact Assessment Update released on December 18, 2015. Continue reading
The media is all a buzz about the recent Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) settlement agreement between the Department of Justice and Carnival Corporation. Basically it requires Carnival to make access improvements on 62 Carnival, Holland America and Princess ships, pay a modest fine to the government and reparations to the damaged parties, and appoint compliance officers to oversee access on the ships. And of course, as in most settlement agreements, Carnival admits no wrongdoing or violation of the ADA. Continue reading
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.