I am a hearing impaired individual and also one that cruises. I am actually going on one in February of 2007 – my 3rd. This is to communicate to you that many functions on board cruise ships have been inaccessible to me due to my hearing loss and I was forced to not participate or not enjoy. Although termed “special accommodation” by some, there are little things cruise ships can do to help those who are hard of hearing truly enjoy their vacation they have worked so hard to pay for. Special seating up front in performances where lip reading is possible is one way to help those passengers who are hard of hearing at no cost. Asking passengers during the registration process if they are hearing impaired and training staff on how to communicate with these passengers is also a low cost approach to accommodating hearing impaired people.
Closed captioning is one of the easiest and most useful ways for understanding speech. TV’s, movies, or any other movie-type program should be captioned. Participating in Tender is difficult to say the least. I would much rather have a short personal session to ensure I understand the rules during an evacuation than hope I heard the right thing during the mass public training. And by the way, louder is NOT better. Most hard of hearing people have tone deafness which is the loss of a frequency band, such as bells, whistles, and sirens. So a small special accommodation for a group of hard of hearing passengers is not much to ask for and I can guarantee any hard of hearing individual would be ecstatic to partake in any event in which they felt they could completely engage in.
Hard of hearing people come in all ages and should not be assumed that only elderly passengers fit this stereotype. I myself am 33 and enjoy cruises a lot. Educating staff on how to properly communicate with hard of hearing passengers and making an effort to ensure they have what every other passenger has access to is good service, not to mention complying with the ADA. So, in summation, there are a few low to no cost ways in which cruise ships can provide accessibility to those who are hard of hearing. Education, understanding, and providing the skills to staff is a vital part in this, as well as reserved seating and captioning. Thank you.
Fort Collins, CO 80525 USA