MR. FEHRIBACH: Greg Fehribach, [address], Indianapolis, Indiana, 46202.
I'm an attorney practicing for 18 and a half years in private practice of law with the law firm Smith located in Indiana.
I'm an extensive traveler and have had the opportunity to use metro several years. The point I have had three cruises in 2003, 2005 and one cruise separately, each year. Prior to that, I took my first cruise on a vessel in '96.
And as a part of my professional life, I'm also (low audio) as an attorney, I use a variety of opportunities to work with organizations to increase access for I believe you may have my resume before you.
If not, a few projects I have been affiliated, one of which is working with Indiana, (low audio) and a variety of projects.
I have had the opportunity to review a variety of special disability issues and in that time, and with my travel and extensive vessel work, actually not work, recreation, one most important issue that I would like to share with the Committee is the simple fact that as we continue to make our amenities more accessible, I have found that more people are using those accessible features than ever before.
I've also travelled often with my aging mother in law who is not getting any easier and for the record, I am also a wheelchair user.
I have a diagnosis of (low audio) and use a wheelchair and take a manual wheelchair in my travels. I'm 3 feet 11 tall and have some eye issues also.
The cruising has gotten to be more accessible for my family and I over the last several years and I appreciate the fact that the companies have attempted to make the vessels more accessible.
By the same token, we need to continue to increase options on the vessel including more options with room choice as well as trying to accommodate all options such as recreations, the hydro pools, whirlpools and also in the areas for exercise in the areas of exercises.
The simple issues, public restrooms as well as cabin restrooms have provided an interesting unique opportunity.
On the vessel, many of the other passengers use accessible features because they are quite appropriate for them as well as for folks with disabilities and quite comfortable.
Including the design not to a minimum standard but almost to a maximum standard.
I think the reason why that maximum standard is important is because looking at the deadline, more features being accessible and if users on the vessel, the more people will be able to access these vessels and cruise lines and ship builders, those people that create the accessibility, serious about whether that bottom line I think it is genuine but also believe that if you look at what economics especially in my particular situation, where we have spent probably in the area of $15,000 in one family situation over the last year just on the purchase of cruises alone, that does not include the extra amenities that we were able to spend money on while we were on the cruise line.
These features we have found to be actually wonderful being able to accommodate inclusion in the situation by the fact that I have children and the children enjoy these features as well as my aging mother in law who often travels with us.
I have not been able to get in the pool or any of the vessels and that amenity is something I would like to happen.
Also, oftentimes when the vessel arrives at a port of call, may not be more access may be difficult.
In the wheelchair user, or for the aging person, they use vessel as oppose to land excursion. To make it more comfort label and more enjoyable is that the person makes that choice to stay on the vessel as opposed to on land cruises that is something separate and unique opportunity although I will suggest that the cruise lines ought to become more aware of the necessity of creating packages for passengers who choose to take their cruise lines.
I think it is an area that the cruise line directors and the actual company need to really put a little more pressure on to create those opportunities for people with disabilities and as a matter of fact, cruising is actually one of the easiest places to see a variety of ports of call and cultures.
We have had the opportunity to use this as a mechanism for the children to share, wheelchair users to accomplish that.
Lastly, I think one of the other issues that we need to address is a fact that I am able to access cruise ships because I do have a family and I do have folks that are able to participate along with me on the adventure.