Meeting Minutes for Nov. 28 and 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The meeting was opened by Mr. Silverstein (Committee Facilitator). Eight committee members were present with Mr. Bakke also representing the Hearing Access Program (as Ms. Schacter could not attend). The Epilepsy Foundation of America representative, Ms. Yannias, participated by phone until about 2 PM. The Hearing Loss Association of American was not represented.

The committee approved the September 2007 meeting minutes with one change made. In the September 19th portion of the minutes, the words “and operational practices” were added in the sixth paragraph. The new the paragraph now reads “Following lunch, committee member Mr. Thompson made a presentation and answered questions concerning emergency alarm systems and operational practices provided on cruise ships owned by members of his association, … ”.

The committee authorized Mr. Beatty (Designated Federal Official) to make minor editorial changes to committee material without informing the committee.

Mr. Beatty provided a handout which showed how the Access Board had amended the committee charter by removing the references to the committee Chair, since the committee will not have a Chair but will use a facilitator. The amended version is on the PVEAAC Homepage (http://www.access-board.gov/pvaac/alarms). Because of this change, the protocol signature line which Mr. Silverstein had signed was changed from “Committee Chair” to “Committee Facilitator”. This action did not require the committee members to resign the protocol.

Mr. Beatty reviewed the portion of a modified handout (used at the September 2007 meeting) which contained sections V215, V224.4, and V806.3.1 of the 2006 draft Passenger Vessel Accessibility Guidelines (draft PVAG). These sections contained the draft provisions that required emergency alarm systems to comply with principles of best practice. The handout also contained an excerpt from the supplementary material provided with the 2006 draft PVAG which addressed why the draft contained principles of best practice. Mr. Beatty provided a brief overview of what the Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee recommended, what was placed in the 2004 draft PVAG, and what ended up in the 2006 draft PVAG.

Mr. Silverstein highlighted briefly portions of the handout which contained the proposed ADA effective communication requirements in sections 39.57, 39.85, 39.89, 39.93 from the Department of Transportation’s notice of proposed rulemaking on passenger vessels (Federal Register, January 23, 2007, pages 2833 to 2851).

Mr. Beatty briefly reviewed the additional handouts provided to the committee and noted that all this material would be placed in the PVEAAC Homepage, except material which is copyrighted. If available, links for the copyrighted material would be placed on the web site.

Ms. Silverstein highlighted portions of a handout provided by the US Coast Guard (USCG) which summarized alarm requirements in USCG regulations and in the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

Mr. Silverstein lead a review of the draft guiding principles document (dated Oct 1, 2007, developed at the September meeting) which the committee approved for use, but Ms. Yannias would work on a recommended change to be provided after lunch.

After a break, Mr. Silverstein lead a discussion about alternative designs or technologies for emergency alarm systems that meet the access needs of individuals with hearing loss or deafness on passenger vessels. In the discussion, comments included:

  • Different kinds of ships (e.g., cruise, dinner, excursion, and ferries);
  • Different areas (e.g., assembly spaces, cabins, elevators, and pool decks);
  • Sign language interpreters;
  • Redundancy in emergency communication;
  • Passenger education coupled with devices;
  • Portable text display devices; and,
  • Audible, visible, and tactile alarms.

Captain Handy (the Master of a local dinner vessel) made a short presentation and answered questions about how vessels without designated muster stations use emergency alarms, public address systems, and crew directions to move passengers to safer parts of a vessel (which are not necessarily pre-determined) based on the type of emergency (e.g., fire) encountered.

Following lunch, recommended changes to the guiding principles from Ms. Yannias were reviewed and a change to the guiding principles was approved. Under the heading “Recognize heterogeneity of population”, the third bullet was rewritten to say “Recognize that any alarm system design should reduce to the extent possible the risks of adverse effects that alarm systems can cause to people with disabilities, including persons with epilepsy”.

Mr. Silverstein, building on earlier discussions and noting areas where consensus seemed to be appearing, presented the following three questions to the committee for discussion.

  1. If there is an emergency general alarm (one action) with respect to an emergency that is communicated to all passengers, what is required for passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing? Comments included:
    • General alarms should be audible and visual.
    • Visible – fixed, portable kits, or personal alert device?
    • If fixed, number of cabins?
    • Visible criteria?
    • What are the emergency power requirements for visual alarms?
    • Except for reported examples Royal Caribbean vessels portable kits not connected to general alarms.
    • In terms of emergency alarms, audible and visual, must comply with SOLAS to the extent SOLAS has standards, or you provide PDAs – requirement would sunset after a set period of time.
  2. If the general emergency alarm includes voice announcements (instructions to take action), what is required for passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing? Comments included:
    • May not be a preordained response to an emergency.
    • Are there similar landside situations? Airport paging boards.
    • How are bomb threats in public spaces communicated?
    • Receive something on their pager or over the radio/TV.
    • Master’s first responsibility is to save the vessel.
    • Placing too many responsibilities on smaller crew.
    • Could crew member enter instruction into visible paging system?
    • All crew members have responsibilities in emergencies.
    • Accommodations benefit hearing folks as well.
    • Can standard statements be canned transmitted statements?
    • How are passengers sitting in their cars on the ferry notified?
    • Organized evacuation with assigned crew members.
    • Crew does not rely on audible announcements, because some passengers don’t listen, disagree, etc.
    • It will only help crew if correct message is communicated to passengers.
    • Crew will have difficulty with uninformed crowd.
    • Crew communicating by speaking and hand signs (pointing and directing).
  3. If there is a specific localized emergency (e.g., limited to in-room locally sounding smoke detector) and there is an alarm for some passengers, what is required for passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing? Comments included:
    • Passenger sleeping versus being awake.
    • Design and construction - fixed features - Access Board jurisdiction.
    • Operational (effective communications, more individualized) - non-fixed - DOT jurisdiction.
    • Overlap between jurisdictions concerning some features.

At the end of the day, a period of public comment was provided. As no public participants desired to comment, the committee kept discussing question three until 5 pm.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mr. Silverstein opened the second day of the meeting. Ms. Yannias, Ms Schacter, and Mr. Bakke were not present. Mr. Bakke joined the committee later in the morning.

Mr. Richardson (National Fire Projection Association representative) highlighted some statements made in the executive summary from the Fire Protection Research Foundation report on Waking Effectiveness of Alarms for Adults Who are Hard of Hearing (see PVEAAC Homepage, September 2007 meeting documents, for web link to report). During and after Mr. Richardson’s comments, the committee discussed the approaches for waking people in their cabins and what kinds of alarms would be appropriate (e.g., rotating beacons versus strobes, and related battery power needs).

The committee discussed assistive listening system needs at muster stations, what might already be required by the 2006 draft PVAG, and how some cruise ship companies handle interpreter needs at muster stations in emergencies.

After a break and with Mr. Bakke in attendance, Mr. Silverstein put out a framework/proposal for developing a consensus from what he had heard in previous committee discussions. The committee spent the remainder of the day developing its initial draft consensus document.

At 4:30 PM, the committee allowed a time for public comment. As no public participant desired to comment, the committee continued its discussions on the consensus document.

As the end of the meeting, the committee selected February 12 and 13, 2008, as its next meeting date. Mr. Beatty would confirm with Ms. Yannias that these dates were good with her. Ms. Schacter had already provided Mr. Beatty her February availability, and these dates did not conflict.

Mr. Beatty was directed to clean up the initial draft consensus document, and send it out to the committee. The committee will have time to review it, before it is placed on the PVEAAC Homepage, in the “documents” link of the November 2007 meeting.

The meeting adjourned around 5 PM.


Appendix A – Attendees

Committee Members
Matthew Bakke Gallaudet University, RERC on Hearing Enhancement
Hearing Access Program
Bryce Brockway Passenger Vessel Association
David S. Chapman Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers
Lise Hamlin Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network
Barbara Raimondo National Association of the Deaf
Lee Richardson National Fire Protection Association
Ted Thompson Cruise Lines International Association
Ed Welch Passenger Vessel Association (alternate member)
Kathleen C. Yannias Epilepsy Foundation
(absent) Hearing Loss Association of America

Access Board
Paul Beatty Designated Federal Official, Access Board
David Capozzi Director, Office of Technical and Information Services, Access Board (Nov. 28th)
James Raggio General Counsel, Access Board
Lawrence Roffee Executive Director, Access Board (Nov. 28th)
Elizabeth Stewart Board Member, Access Board

Public Participants
Tiffany Bergman Holland America
LCDR Marie Byrd US Coast Guard
Jay Cardinali Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Lou Nash US Coast Guard
Zach Dewaters National Burglar & Fire Alarm Assoc. (morning Nov 28th)