Board Releases Proposed Guidelines for Passenger Vessels
shipThe Access Board has released for public comment proposed guidelines for passenger vessels. Developed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the guidelines provide design criteria for large vessels when newly constructed or altered to ensure that they are accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines address various features of vessel accessibility and include provisions for onboard routes, vertical access between decks, doorways and coamings, toilet rooms, guest rooms, alarm systems, and other spaces and elements used by passengers.

"The Board is pleased to unveil proposed guidelines that will ensure access to vessels for passengers with disabilities," states Access Board Chair Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA. "We know from experience that barriers to accessibility are often due to a lack of clear and detailed design guidance, and this rule will fill a long-standing gap in making passenger vessels accessible to all."

As proposed, the guidelines would apply to cruise ships and other vessels that carry over 150 passengers or at least 50 overnight passengers. They also cover ferries designed to carry 100 or more passengers and tenders allowed to carry 60 or more passengers. The Board is not proposing requirements for smaller vessels due to design challenges, space constraints, and other factors. The guidelines would apply to newly built or altered vessels.

In laying the groundwork for this effort, the Board conducted research on the feasibility and impacts of integrating accessibility into the design of vessels. This information includes case studies on vessels of various types and sizes, examination of design solutions to identified design and engineering constraints, and cost and impact analyses. The Board previously released advance drafts of the guidelines for comment which were based on recommendations from two advisory panels organized by the Board, the Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee and the Passenger Vessels Emergency Alarms Advisory Committee.

The Board is developing these guidelines under the ADA, which requires access to transportation and other services and to places of public accommodation. Under the law, the Board is responsible for developing minimum guidelines covering access to transportation systems and to the built environment. The vessel guidelines, once finalized, will join the Board's ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Vehicles, which are currently being updated, and its ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities. The new guidelines will be used by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Justice in setting mandatory standards.

The proposed guidelines and related information can be accessed, and comments submitted, through the federal government's rulemaking portal at Instructions for submitting comments are included in the proposal. The deadline for comments is September 23, 2013. The Board will hold a public hearing on the guidelines in Washington, D.C. on July 10.

Visit the passenger vessels homepage on the Board's website for more information or contact Paul Beatty at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (202) 272-0012 (v), or (202) 272-0072 (TTY).

Public Hearing on the Proposed Guidelines for Passenger Vessels
July 10, 9:30 - Noon
Access Board Conference Room
1331 F Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20004
Note: For the comfort of all participants and to promote a fragrance-free environment, attendees are requested not to use perfume, cologne, or other fragrances.

Call-in option (listening only):
Dial: (888) 603-7094 (toll-free)
Passcode: 6317703
To submit comments by phone, contact Al Baes in advance at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (202) 202) 272-0011 (v), or (202) 272-0082 (TTY)

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART):
[The web streaming link will be posted on the Passenger Vessels homepage.]


Board Forms Advisory Committee on Rail Vehicle Accessibility
The Board has organized an advisory committee as part of its review and update of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles. The Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee will develop consensus recommendations for the Board's use in updating sections of the guidelines that cover vehicles of fixed guideway systems, including rapid, light, commuter, intercity, and high speed rail. These guidelines, which were originally published in 1991, serve as the basis for standards that apply to new or remanufactured vehicles required to be accessible under the ADA. The committee's work will not extend to portions of the guidelines that address buses and vans, which the Board is already in the process of updating.

Members of the Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee include:

  • Alstom Transportation
  • American Council of the Blind
  • Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living
  • Bombardier Transportation
  • California Department of Transportation, Division of Rail
  • Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access
  • Community Transportation Association of America
  • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
  • Federal Railroad Administration (ex officio member)
  • Hearing Access Program
  • International Centre for Accessible Transportation
  • Maryland Transit Administration
  • Metra & Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation
  • National Association of the Deaf
  • National Association of Railroad Passengers
  • National Council on Independent Living
  • National Disability Rights Network
  • National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)
  • Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • RailPlan International
  • Ricon Corporation
  • South West Transit Association
  • Talgo, Inc.
  • United Spinal Association

The committee is structured to represent a balanced cross section of stakeholders and interested parties, including rail vehicle manufacturers, transit providers, disability groups, and others, as indicated in a published notice. Members were selected based on responses to a request for nominations the Board issued in February. The Board regrets not being able to accommodate all requests for committee membership. Committee membership is voluntary, and members are not reimbursed for their services.

The committee's work will be conducted in accordance with regulations governing federal advisory committees. All committee meetings will be open to the public and will provide opportunities for any interested parties to provide information or offer comment. In addition, non-members may have the opportunity to participate in the work of any subcommittees formed by the committee. Details on the committee's first meeting will be released at a later date.

For further information, visit the Board's website or contact Paul Beatty at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (202) 272-0012 (voice), or (202) 272-0072 (TTY). Those interested in this rulemaking and the work of the committee can sign up to receive further updates.

Advisory Panels on Medical Diagnostic Equipment and Prescription Drug Container Labels to Present Reports
exam table and Rx symbolAdvisory panels the Board formed to address access to medical diagnostic equipment (MDE) and prescription drug container labels will present their reports at the next meeting of the Board on July 10.

The MDE Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee will submit recommendations on how MDE accessibility standards proposed by the Board should be finalized. The standards, which the Board made available for public comment last year, address access to examination tables and chairs, weight scales, x-ray machines, mammography equipment, and other types of diagnostic equipment. Organized last July, the committee met regularly to examine issues raised in public comments on the proposed standard and to adopt consensus recommendations for the Board's use in finalizing the standards. The committee's 24 members included medical device manufacturers, health care providers, disability groups, and others.

The Working Group on Accessible Prescription Drug Container Labels will present to the Board recommended best practices for making information on prescription drug container labels accessible to people who are visually impaired or who are elderly. This 18-member stakeholder panel, which was comprised of representatives from advocacy organizations and industry, explored various access alternatives, including braille, large print labels, and auditory technologies such as "talking bottles" and radio frequency identification tags. The working group's recommendations are advisory only, not mandatory, and will not have the force of guidelines or standards. This guidance is being developed under the the "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act" which was signed into law last summer.

Meeting of the U.S. Access Board
July 10, 1:30 - 3:30
Access Board Conference Room
1331 F Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20004
Note: For the comfort of all participants and to promote a fragrance-free environment, attendees are requested not to use perfume, cologne, or other fragrances.

Call-in option (listening only):
Dial: (888) 790-2060 (toll-free)
Passcode: 6317703

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART):
[The web streaming link will be posted on the Board's homepage.]

Upcoming Board Webinars
Accessible websites will be the subject of the next webinar in the Board's free monthly series to be held on July 11 from 2:30 - 4:00 (ET). This session will review requirements in the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, also known as WCAG 2.0, issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The Board, which is updating its Section 508 standards for information and communication technology, has proposed referencing the WCAG 2.0 to address web accessibility.

The following webinar, which is scheduled for August 1, will review requirements in the ADA and ABA Standards for transportation facilities, including rail stations and bus shelters.

The webinar series is made available in cooperation with the ADA National Network. For more information, including registration instructions, visit Questions for the webinars can be submitted in advance through this website. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are also available on the site. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits (CEUs).


DOJ and HUD Issue Guidance on the Fair Housing Act
fair housing iconThe Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have issued guidance on requirements of the Fair Housing Act covering access to multifamily housing. The new 31-page guide is intended to help design professionals, developers, and builders better understand the design and construction requirements of the Act which requires accessible features in multifamily housing with four or more units, built for first occupancy after March 1991. It also advises people with disabilities on their rights under the law. Additional information is available on DOJ's website and HUD's website.


EEOC Issues ADA Guidance on Employment
EEOC logoThe U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination, recently issued updated guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This material explains how the ADA applies to applicants and employees with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, or intellectual disabilities. Topics covered include when employers may obtain medical information from applicants and employees, what types of reasonable accommodations individuals with these particular disabilities might need, how an employer should handle safety concerns, and what an employer should do to prevent and correct disability-based harassment. These and other ADA guides are available on EEOC's website.


Access Currents is a free newsletter issued by the Access Board every other month by mail and e-mail. Send questions or comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (800) 872-2253 ext. 0026 (voice) or (800) 993-2822 (TTY). Mailing address: 1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000; Washington, D.C. 20004-1111.