HLAA filed comments January 24, 2014, with the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) regarding their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking covering passenger vessels.
Developed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the guidelines provide design criteria for large vessels when newly constructed or altered to ensure that they are accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines address various features of vessel accessibility and include provisions for onboard routes, vertical access between decks, doorways, toilet rooms, guest rooms, alarm systems, and communication devices used by passengers. As proposed, the guidelines would apply to cruise ships and other vessels that carry over 150 passengers or at least 50 overnight passengers. They also cover ferries designed to carry 100 or more passengers and tenders allowed to carry 60 or more passengers. The Board is not proposing requirements for smaller vessels due to assessed design challenges, space constraints, and other factors. The guidelines would apply to newly built or altered vessels.
The work on these guidelines began in 1998 when an advisory committee was convened. This advisory committee issued its report in 2000. In 2007, a second advisory committee was established to assess emergency alarms. That committee submitted its report in 2008. This rulemaking is the next step toward final rules. Passenger vessel owners and operators would not be required to comply with the guidelines until they are adopted by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as accessibility standards for the construction and alteration of passenger vessels covered by the ADA.
The NPRM does address communication access, including Emergency Alarms (V215), Telephones (V217), Two Way Communication Systems (V218), Assistive Listening Systems (V219), and Guest Rooms with Communications Features (V224.4). We have provided some suggestions as well as support for the Access Board’s work.