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.
As I make my way across the country on this two-month road trip, I just can’t help checking out the swimming pools at the properties I stay at along the way. Not only do I really enjoy the water, but I’m also interested in seeing how many properties are taking steps to be in compliance with the new ADA accessibility regulations for pools and spas. Granted, the regulations don’t go into effect until January 2013, but I’m just curious about how we are doing right now. And although it’s far from a scientific study, here’s what I found out about pool accessibility – or lack thereof – in a wide range of properties across America. Continue reading
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