My comments on the 2nd draft of the Passenger Vessel Accessibility Guidelines (PVAG),
The ADA is so ALL people have the same access to ALL areas. Why do some businesses think they can just ignore this? Why do business think disabled people should have partial views or no views on some ships and in some hotels? Why do people think disabled people wouldn't participate in certain activities? Why do some people think it is okay not to deal with the issues and make things equal access. I am so tired of hearing it will cost us money...blah blah. What happened to compassion and equality? Disabled people pay taxes just like everyone else, we vote just like everyone else, we laugh, cry and have feelings like everyone else. Having just taken another cruise I find it unacceptable that disabled people do not have the ability to participate in all activates.
On Carnival Pride-
- No lift to get a disabled person onto the stage to participate.
- No way to get to all decks so can't participate in shuffleboard for example.
- Having ping pong tables in the elevator waiting area, making it almost impossible for anyone using an electric scooter to enter and exit the elevator.
- Having portrait backdrops blocking ramp access.
- Having stateroom hallways blocked with carts and cleaning equipment.
- Not having one deck with no smoking. Of the 2 main decks they have a casino on one deck and a cigar bar/area on another deck. There is no way you can get from one end of the ship to the other without directly passing through smoking areas. Also the cigar bar is right outside the main dining room so the cigar smoke goes right into the dining area making eating your meal miserable. People with asthma, allergies, environmental illness, chemical sensitivity and other respiratory aliments should have a way on one of the main decks to not encounter smoke directly. Nor should the dining room pump scents into the dining area.
- No connecting state rooms with disabled staterooms.
- The electronic door on deck 9 where not trigger by people walking they had to wave their hands over their head, a person in a wheelchair could NEVER get it to open.
- The ramp into the showroom was impossible to use as there were glass doors at the top of the ramp that entered into a dance club, making the turn to get into the showroom was IMPOSSIBLE especially if the glass doors were closed.
- No lift to get in or out of tender.
- Should have disabled access path maps in each accessible cabin and one should be give to each disabled person at the lifeboat drill.
- No house phones at level for someone in a wheelchair.
- No disabled window at purser's desk, photography kiosk, casino cashier or travel desk.
- They did not meet the number of wheelchair spaces required in the showroom.
- They did not meet the number of disabled cabins required and they did not have cabins in all categories.
ADA needs to make sure all NEW ships meet new standards and all current ships make some changes. Some as simple as NOT allowing anyone to leave things in the hallways. A lot of my suggestions also would be beneficial to seniors who make up a large group of people taking cruises.
ADA rules need to make all doorways a minimum of 36 inches so someone in a wheelchair can enter and exit relatives' or friends' cabins.
All bathrooms need to have raised toilets, grab bars by toilets and in the shower. This is beneficifial to ALL passengers due to the movement of the ship.
If a scooter/wheelchair/walker could be stored in the cabin you would cut down on folks asking for disabled rooms leaving them for those that really need them.
For new ships designers can incorporate some essential measures into every stateroom with simple things like relocating the closets, adding a few feet in width to the room and no you won't lose TONS of space reducing the number of passengers and income. Have a closet (water tight) on the balcony that could store a wheelchair/scooter when not in use and/or extra luggage that has carried medical supplies.
Roll-in showers---The drains NEVER seem to be where the water runs and leave half inch or more of water on the floor making it a slippery and dangerous surface for anyone with a walker and even for a non-disabled person walking in and slipping. It would be pretty easy to make a quarter inch slope towards the drain and have a drain strip at least 3 feet long and 4 inches wide in the shower and at the doorway. The addition of a long handled squeegee would be beneficial.
New built boats might consider disabled staterooms be placed within 100 feet (10 cabins) of the emergency elevator. This emergency elevator for wheelchair/scooter users and their families MUST have a backup generator system in the event of power failure.
New built boats NEED connecting state rooms with disabled staterooms. For outside/balcony rooms this can be done by having doors on each side of the balcony that can be unlocked opening the balconies. This gives you the ability to connect more than one stateroom with each other. This would be EXTREMELY useful for families.
New built boats need to make stateroom hallways wider. This could easily be remedied by making the hall wide enough that allow a cart in the hall and still have at least a 38" path of travel (don't forget to allow for hand rail protrusion into the space). They could also design the carpet to be marked for luggage placement for disembarkation or any item to be in hallways (laundry bags, food trays, etc) so they do not block wheelchair/scooter access at any time.
The showrooms need to have LOTS of disabled seating, it can be accomplished pretty easy by having an area at one end of all the rows (alternating sides by odd and even rows). Also having it clearly marked for disabled and at least 2 seats next the disabled area to be labeled for companions of disabled persons. Having many disabled areas allows disabled people to sit with non-disabled members of their party and accommodate those that like to be down front, in the middle, etc. Having one or two places simply does NOT provide adequate seating for those disabled. This can easily be done when building a new ship.
One deck should encircle the outside of the entire ship and have full accessible paths of travel without stairs use required.
The dining rooms need to have at least a 36 inch wide aisle (most do not) and the dining rooms should not have "areas" for wheelchairs, a person should be able to sit anywhere in ANY dining room.
Any raised area should have access (not limited to the dining room but the entire ship).
If the ship offers tours they need to have a van or bus with a lift to accommodate disabled persons, EQUALITY for all.
Things I found a LARGE need of for disabled folks since my cruise in July 2006:
- Automatic doors. There is no way for a person in a wheelchair to open the deck doors, pressing a button for it to open is really needed. Even more so when they have modified the threshold/coaming for wheelchair/scooter, you can't even roll up over these easily even at full speed of an electric unit, and it is impossible when alone in a manual chair. The doors need to have flat in and out NOT the uphill over the threshold that is over 1.5 inches clearance or 5-6" wide. Wherever there are normal entrances and exits you need to have an automatic option.
- Automatic doors. Need for staterooms- insert key, press a button door opens.
- Disabled unisex toilets on all decks with push button open doors and privacy latches. Not only is this good for disabled but for seniors that need to help each other using the facilities or parents with small children.
- Disabled unisex changing rooms in gym and near the pools with push button open doors and privacy latches. Not only is this good for disabled but for seniors that need to help each other or parents with small children.
- More than one electrical outlet in the disabled cabins and on different walls at various heights. People that need to charge their wheelchair/scooter or have medical equipment that is powered by electricity ABSOLUTELY need more than one plug in the room.
- Lift to the stage so disabled folks can participate in activities.
- Access to all decks (including athletic areas).
- Need to have assistance for checking in, getting luggage on and off the ship. Disabled people with medical equipment can't leave their stuff out the night before as they use the equipment during the night. So they need to have special disembarkation with staff help. The entire party traveling with the disabled person's suitcases and such should be taken off with the disabled person.
- There needs to be at least one elevator designated as an emergency elevator for wheelchair/scooter users and their families and it should have a backup generator system in the event of power failure. New built boats might consider placing disabled staterooms within 100 feet (10 cabins) of the emergency elevator.
- Accessible cabins should be found in each cabin category (and they are NOT) and should not be blocked view as is commonplace. A person that is disabled likes a view just like everyone else! I hate being treated like a second class citizen.
- Shops on the ship often do not have clear paths of travel for a wheelchair/scooter between clothing racks and shelving. An easy way to remedy this is either larger aisles or racks with wheels (that lock and unlock easily) that can be moved easily.
The menu should have in each category offered soft food options. This is needed for those with swallowing or chewing issues (disabled, children and seniors would benefit).
I urge the Access Board to facilitate the above changes and make cruise ships more accessible to everyone skinny, fat, young and old. Remember one day you may be old and a slow walker or need the use of a walker, cane, wheelchair or scooter. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to get around and not struggle like most of us currently do?
Santa Clara, CA 95055