Northern Virginia Resource Center
for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons
3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
November 13, 2006
Comments on Guidelines for Passenger Vessels
The Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC) has been serving the metropolitan area of Northern Virginia since 1988. This area has more than 100,000 people with hearing loss. In addition, many of our programs have assisted individuals across the U.S. and in several other countries.
We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the U.S. Access Board's second draft of the Americans with Disabilities Act Guidelines for Passenger Vessels, and thank the Board for its hard work in developing them.
Among our staff and contractors is Joan Cassidy, a veteran of 23 cruises who has had a hearing loss for decades. Ms. Cassidy has frequently worked to improve access to passenger vessels, and she was our go-to expert for reviewing the new draft of the Guidelines for Passenger Vessels.
As a result of Ms. Cassidy’s review, we wholeheartedly support the very specific recommendations made by the Hearing Access Program. If these are included in the Passenger Vessels Access Guidelines, passengers with hearing loss will be safer and they will finally be able to enjoy the shipboard activities that hearing passengers take for granted.
We would like to share these comments from Ms. Cassidy:
I know that it is especially important to train all cruise employees who work directly with passengers. Based on my travels I think that every cruise ship has some equipment to help passengers with hearing loss, but whenever I call cruise headquarters or ask at the Front Desk on the ship, I am told that they do not offer that equipment or service. I have to work through several levels of supervisors before I find someone who knows about the equipment and how to use it. It should not be that difficult.
703-352-9055 Voice 703-352-9056 TTY 703-352-9058 FAX
On every cruise I have seen dozens of people with hearing aids, but it seems like none of them have any idea that they can ask for a special telephone or TTY, flashing light doorbell or fire alarm, and a television set with closed captioning. They think that Disability Access is only for people in wheelchairs
Cruise ships need to inform passengers about what is available to help them. For example, every Princess ship, with the exception of the oldest, the Regal, has Assistive Listening Systems in the theaters and main show lounges, but there are no signs outside the theaters or at the front desk, no information in the daily newsletter and thus no way for hard of hearing passengers to know they are available.
I now try to talk directly with the Cruise Director, and if he's not available I insist that they find someone who knows where the headsets are hidden. The Golden Princess has over 20 headsets hanging behind a door and I was told that they are never used. This is no surprise since nobody knows they have them, and that includes many of the Golden Princess staff. This is a real shame because the system is excellent and enabled me to enjoy many of the shows.
Again thank you for the good work and for the opportunity to provide comments.
Cheryl A. Heppner