I am an active, mobile senior who loves to travel and welcome this opportunity to respond to the US Access Board’s request for comments to its 2nd Draft to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines for Passenger Vessels. Like a lot of other seniors, I have a profound hearing loss, wear two hearing aids and always request a hearing accessible cabin in advance. When I arrive, I usually get a wheelchair accessible cabin I don't want or need. I switch to a regular cabin and then wait for the house engineer to install the equipment that will make my cabin hearing accessible and safe for someone with a hearing loss including fire, phone and door knock visual/tactile signal alerts, a hearing aid compatible, volume controlled phone, a television set with closed captioning,a vibrating alarm clock, and a TTY (text telephone) in my room and at the front desk. Some cruise ships have installed assistive listening systems at the Registration Desk which makes checking in and talking with staff much easier.
The International Symbol of Hearing Loss and other symbols for hearing accessibility provide visual information to people with hearing loss quickly and easily.
They make it easier to understand what the staff is saying, which can be a real challenge, especially when we travel where the patterns of speech are different than the ones we are used to.
Here are some interesting facts:
4.2 million people use hearing aids.
1.6 million people use wheelchairs.
From The Hearing Loss Association of America:
Hearing Loss in Adults
• One in every ten (28 million) Americans has hearing loss. As baby boomers reach retirement age starting in 2010, this number is expected to rapidly climb and nearly double by the year 2030.
• The prevalence of hearing loss increases with age, up to 1 in 3 over age 65. Most hearing losses develop over a period of 25 to 30 years.
• Among seniors, hearing loss is the third most prevalent, but treatable disabling condition, behind arthritis and hypertension.
• While the vast majority of Americans (95%) with hearing loss could be successfully treated with hearing aids, only 22% (6.35 million indivduals) currently use them.
Only 5% of hearing loss in adults can be improved through medical or surgical treatment.
Cruise ships are a favorite vacation destination for seniors as well as a lot of potential seniors. Making them hearing accessible is a win/ win situation for the passengers and the cruise ship companies. We appreciate everything the Access Board does to make this possible.
Ruth D. Bernstein
advocates for better communication/a.b.c.
League for the Hard of Hearing
50 Broadway, New York, NY 10004