MS. ETZEL: Good morning, My name is a Nancy with an IE. My testimony is generally my opinion, however, I am Vice Chair of the Anne Arundel Commission on Disability issues wherein I am a member of the Accessibility and Transportation Subcommittees.
In addition to Maryland Disability Commission and Committees, Transportation Equity Task Force which is organized in Baltimore Council worked with Morgan State University on environmental justice issues and testified on many legislative matters including support of the Department of Disabilities.
I interact with people with disabilities on a daily basis and we discussed cruises and I have also cruised to Alaska on Carnival ship in 2002.
I agree with Mr. LaGrange on the idea of land side accessibility being coordinated by cruise ship operators as each landing is different.
I found that out as I took my cruise from Seattle through the different ports of Alaska where I took my cruise. I was lucky enough to get an accessible cabin. I do not want to know how a regular cabin was configured.
When I made the reservation, the agent said people who want accessible rooms should reserve them 6 to 12 months ahead of time. This is never advertised in brochures.
I in addition, there was a lack of activities for the disabled and the brochure did advertise handicapped activity. There is nothing stating no power wheelchairs allowed. This was not in any advertisement ahead of time either.
Had I known, I would have brought my own manual wheelchair in instead of using the ship's Flintstone era wheelchair. There was no exist for me to go out to my wheelchair onto the deck.
While this may be a liability issue, surely, there can be some sort of legal document whereby one could release the cruise lines if he or she wishes to go out on the deck.
Another gentleman, I did not catch his name and the transcriber program did not type his name, Jeff, who spoke on emergency preparations for evacuation, when I took my cruise, we did have a drill and I stayed in my room because basically, I was told this is only a drill.
I suppose they did not want to interfere with my good time, however, it would have been interesting to see how they were going to get me into a lifeboat and then, try to calm me down when they did not try to save my $26,000 wheelchair.
I agree with Ms. Brunson in terms of bathroom room locations and using both audible and visual smoke detectors, having brochures and menus in alternative formats such as large print.
While they offer positives and persons with a disability does not have to get off a vessel if they want go to games shows, food, food, and more food, to enjoy the staff is usually quite helpful, accommodating and cheerful although if I try to dance with my food, they might have gotten hurt.
There are still many things being overlooked in terms of passenger accessibility.
Thank you for allowing me to testify here today.