The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes and protects the civil rights of people with disabilities and is modeled after earlier landmark laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race and gender.  To ensure that buildings and facilities and certain modes of transportation are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, the ADA establishes accessibility requirements for State and local government facilities, places of public accommodation, and commercial facilities.  Under the ADA, the Access Board has developed and continues to maintain accessibility guidelines for new construction and alterations of buildings and facilities.  The guidelines are known as the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and accessibility guidelines for transportation vehicles.

The Board plans to undertake rulemaking to develop new guidelines for passenger vessels subject to the ADA. The Board’s aim is to ensure that access for persons with disabilities is provided to and on passenger vessels which are newly built or altered, and that the same degree of convenience, connection, and safety afforded to passengers generally is available to passengers with disabilities.  The guidelines would not require alterations to existing passenger vessels, but would apply where an element, space, or facility on a passenger vessel is altered as part of a planned project.