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The Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) rulemaking has concluded. The PROWAG final rule has been published in the Federal Register. Please visit the Access Board’s PROWAG page for the guidelines.

(Proposed) Passenger Vessels Accessibility Guidelines

V101 Purpose

V101.1 General

This document contains scoping and technical requirements for accessibility to passenger vessels by individuals with disabilities. The requirements are to be applied during the design, construction, additions to, and alteration of facilities and elements on passenger vessels to the extent required by regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Justice under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Advisory V101.1 General. In addition to the requirements contained in this document, covered entities must comply under the Americans with Disabilities Act with the regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (see 28 CFR part 35, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services, and part 36, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (see 49 CFR part 37, Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities, and 49 CFR part 39, Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities: Passenger Vessels), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (see 29 CFR part 1630, Regulations to Implement the Equal Employment Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act).

V101.2 Effect on Removal of Barriers in Existing Passenger Vessels

This document does not address existing passenger vessels unless altered at the discretion of a covered entity. The U.S. Department of Justice has authority over existing passenger vessels that are subject to the requirement for removal of barriers under title III of the ADA. Any determination that this document applies to existing passenger vessels subject to the barrier removal requirement is solely within the discretion of the U.S. Department of Justice and is effective only to the extent required by regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.

V102 Dimensions for Adults and Children.

The technical requirements are based on adult dimensions and anthropometrics. In addition, this document includes technical requirements based on children’s dimensions and anthropometrics for drinking fountains, water closets, toilet compartments, lavatories and sinks, and tables and counters.

V103 Equivalent Facilitation.

Nothing in these requirements prevents the use of designs, products, or technologies as alternatives to those prescribed, provided they result in substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability.

Advisory V103 Equivalent Facilitation. The responsibility for demonstrating equivalent facilitation in the event of a challenge rests with the covered entity. With the exception of transit vehicles and facilities, which are covered by regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, there is no process for certifying that an alternative design provides equivalent facilitation.

V104 Standard Practices

V104.1 Dimensions

Dimensions that are not stated as “maximum” or “minimum” are absolute.

V104.1.1 Construction and Manufacturing Tolerances

All dimensions are subject to conventional industry tolerances except where the requirement is stated as a range with specific minimum and maximum end points.

Advisory V104.1.1 Construction and Manufacturing Tolerances. Conventional industry tolerances recognized by this provision include those for field conditions and those that may be a necessary consequence of a particular manufacturing process. Recognized tolerances are not intended to apply to design work.

It is good practice when specifying dimensions to avoid specifying a tolerance where dimensions are absolute. For example, if this document requires “1½ inches,” avoid specifying “1½ inches plus or minus X inches.”

Where the requirement states a specified range, such as in Section V609.4 where grab bars must be installed between 33 inches and 36 inches above the deck surface, the range provides an adequate tolerance and therefore no tolerance outside of the range at either end point is permitted.

Where a requirement is a minimum or a maximum dimension that does not have two specific minimum and maximum end points, tolerances may apply. Where an element is to be installed at the minimum or maximum permitted dimension, such as “15 inches minimum” or “5 pounds maximum”, it would not be good practice to specify “5 pounds (plus X pounds) or 15 inches (minus X inches).” Rather, it would be good practice to specify a dimension less than the required maximum (or more than the required minimum) by the amount of the expected field or manufacturing tolerance and not to state any tolerance in conjunction with the specified dimension.

Specifying dimensions in design in the manner described above will better ensure that facilities, spaces and elements on passenger vessels accomplish the level of accessibility intended by these requirements. It will also more often produce an end result of strict and literal compliance with the stated requirements and eliminate enforcement difficulties and issues that might otherwise arise. Information on specific tolerances may be available from industry or trade organizations and published references.

V104.1.2 Slopes

Slopes are measured when the passenger vessel is in a static design condition at full load.

V104.2 Calculation of Percentages

Where the required number of elements or facilities to be provided is determined by calculations of ratios or percentages and remainders or fractions result, the next greater whole number of such elements or facilities shall be provided. Where the determination of the required size or dimension of an element or facility involves ratios or percentages, rounding down for values less than one half shall be permitted.

Figure V104: Graphic Convention for Figures
Dimension lines show English units above the line (in inches unless otherwise noted) and the SI units (in millimeters unless otherwise noted). Small measurements show the dimension with an arrow pointing to the dimension line. Dimension ranges are shown above the line in inches and below the line in millimeters. “Min” refers to minimum, and “max” refers to the maximum. Mathematical symbols indicate greater than, greater than or equal to, less than, and less than or equal to. A dashed line identifies the boundary of clear floor space or maneuvering space. A line with alternating shot and long dashes with a “C” and “L” at the end indicate the centerline. A dashed line with longer spaces indicates a permitted element or its extension. An arrow is to identify the direction of travel or approach. A thick black line is used to represent a wall, floor, ceiling or other element cut in section or plan. Gray shading is used to show an element in elevation or plan. Hatching is used to show the location zone of elements, controls, or features. Terms defined by this document are shown in italics.

V105 Referenced Standards

V105.1 General.

The standards listed in V105.2 are incorporated by reference in this document and are part of the requirements to the prescribed extent of each such reference. The Director of the Federal Register has approved these standards for incorporation by reference in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51 (Incorporation by Reference). Copies of the referenced standards may be inspected at the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, D. 20004.

V105.2 Referenced Standards

The specific edition of the standards listed below are referenced in this document. Where differences occur between this document and the referenced standards, this document applies.

V105.2.1 ASTM

Copies of the referenced standards may be obtained from the American Society for Testing and Materials, 100 Bar Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania 19428 (

  • ASTM F1292-99 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment (see V1004.2.6.2).
  • ASTM F1292-04 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment (see V1004.2.6.2).
  • ASTM F1487-01 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use (see V106.5 “Use Zone”).
  • ASTM F1951-99 Standard Specification for Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment (see V1004.2.6.1).
V105.2.2 NFPA

Copies of the referenced standard may be obtained from the National Fire Protection Association, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, Massachusetts 02169-7471 (

  • NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code, 2010 Edition (see V702.2, and V806.3.3.1).

V106 Definitions

V106.1 General

For the purpose of this document, the terms defined in V106.5 have the indicated meaning.

V106.2 Terms Defined in Referenced Standards

Terms not defined in V106.5 or in regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act, but specifically defined in a referenced standard, shall have the specified meaning from the referenced standard unless otherwise stated.

V106.3 Undefined Terms

The meaning of terms not specifically defined in V106.5 or in regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act, or in U.S. Coast Guard regulations, or in referenced standards shall be as defined by collegiate dictionaries in the sense that the context implies.

V106.4 Interchangeability

Words, terms and phrases used in the singular include the plural and those used in the plural include the singular.

V106.5 Defined Terms.

A passenger vessel or portion thereof that complies with this document.
An expansion, extension, or increase in the gross deck area of a passenger vessel.
Administrative Authority
For U.S. flag vessels, the administrative authority is the U.S. Coast Guard. For foreign flag vessels, the administrative authority is entity designated by the foreign nation that adopts or enforces regulations and guidelines for the design, construction, or alteration of passenger vessels.
A change to a passenger vessel that affects or could affect the usability of the passenger vessel or portion thereof. Alterations include, but are not limited to, remodeling, renovation, rehabilitation, reconstruction, historic restoration, changes or rearrangement of the structural parts or elements, and changes or rearrangement in the plan configuration of bulkheads (walls) and partitions. Normal maintenance, painting or wallpapering, or changes to propulsion, mechanical and electrical systems are not alterations unless they affect the usability of the passenger vessel.
Area of Sport Activity
That portion of a room or space where the play or practice of a sport occurs.
Assembly Area
A portion of a passenger vessel, used for the purpose of entertainment or educational gatherings, or similar purposes. For the purposes of these requirements, assembly areas include, but are not limited to, classrooms, passenger meeting rooms, motion picture houses, auditoria, theaters, and dinner theaters.
Assistive Listening System (ALS)
An amplification system utilizing transmitters, receivers, and coupling devices to bypass the acoustical space between a sound source and a listener by means of induction loop, radio frequency modulation (FM), or infrared equipment.
Bulkhead Deck
The upper most deck to which watertight bulkheads (walls) and the watertight shell extend.
The transverse curvature given to the weather deck surfaces to shed water readily, increase deck surface strength, and increase headroom clearance on the centerline for the deck below. Also known as the rise or crown of a deck.
Catch Pool
A pool or designated section of a pool used as a terminus for water slide flumes.
Letters, numbers, punctuation marks and typographic symbols.
Children’s Use
Describes spaces and elements specifically designed for use primarily by people 12 years old and younger.
Circulation Path
An exterior or interior way of passage provided for pedestrian travel, including but not limited to, weather deck areas, passageways, elevators, platform lifts, ramps, stairways, and landings.
The vertical plating located at the base of a doorway for the purpose of stiffening the edges of the opening and resisting entry of water.
Cross Slope
The slope that is perpendicular to the direction of travel (see running slope).
Curb Ramp
A short ramp cutting through a curb or built up to it.
A horizontal division of a passenger vessel which contains space designed for passenger occupancy and generally corresponds to a story in a building. A horizontal division without enclosed space, such as a sun deck, is considered a deck even though it is not provided with a covering. A deck containing one or more mezzanines has more than one deck level.
An architectural or mechanical component of a passenger vessel, facility, or space.
Elevated Play Component
A play component that is approached above the ground level of the play area and that is part of a composite play structure consisting of two or more play components attached or functionally linked to create an integrated unit providing more than one play activity.
Entry Deck
A deck which contains passenger entry and departure points which allow pedestrian passengers to embark or disembark a passenger vessel from tenders, fixed piers, floating piers, or the land in non-emergency conditions.
All or any portion of passenger vessels, structures, vessel improvements, elements, and pedestrian routes or vehicular ways located on a passenger vessel.
A vessel that is used on a regular schedule to: (1) provide transportation only between places that are not more than 300 miles apart, and (2) transport only passengers, or vehicles or railroad cars used in transporting passengers or goods.
A variable-sloped pedestrian walkway which consists of one or more runs.
Ground Level
The level within a deck where a play area is located.
Ground Level Play Component
A play component that is approached and exited at the ground level.
Mail Boxes
Receptacles for the receipt of documents, packages, or other deliverable matter.
An intermediate level or levels between the deck surface and ceiling of any deck with an aggregate deck surface area of not more than one-third of the area of the room or space in which the level or levels are located. Mezzanines have sufficient elevation that space for human occupancy can be provided on the deck level below. Also known as the tween deck.
Operable Part
A component of an element used to insert or withdraw objects, or to activate, deactivate, or adjust the element.
A pictorial symbol that represents activities, facilities, or concepts.
Play Area
A portion of a passenger vessel containing play components designed and constructed for children.
Play Component
An element intended to generate specific opportunities for play, socialization, or learning.
Qualified Historic Passenger Vessel
A passenger vessel that is listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or designated as historic under an appropriate State or local law.
A walking surface that has a running slope steeper than 1:20.
Running Slope
The slope that is parallel to the direction of travel (see cross slope).
Sailing Vessel
A vessel principally equipped for propulsion by sail even if the vessel has an auxiliary means of propulsion.
The fore-and-aft curvature from bow to stern of a ship’s deck surface as shown in side elevation.
Soft Contained Play Structure
A play structure made up of one or more play components where the user enters a fully enclosed play environment that utilizes pliable materials, such as plastic, netting, or fabric.
A definable area, such as a room, toilet room, corridor, assembly area, open deck area, storage room, alcove, or lobby
Structural Members
The components of the passenger vessel that give it its inherent strength, integrity, and resistance to damage. Examples include, but are not limited to, the keel, keelson, stem and stern posts, frames, longitudinals, structural decks, structural and fire protection bulkheads (walls), gussets, stanchions, columns, girders, beams, knees, trusses, and hull plating and planking.
An object that can be perceived using the sense of touch.
Technically Infeasible
With respect to an alteration of a passenger vessel, something that has little likelihood of being accomplished because existing structural conditions would require removing or altering an essential structural member; or because other existing physical or vessel constraints prohibit modification or addition of elements, spaces, or features that are in full and strict compliance with the minimum requirements.
A vessel primarily intended for transporting passengers for non-emergency purposes between passenger vessels and shore side facilities.
Transition Plate
A sloping pedestrian walkway located at the end(s) of a gangway, or between gangways segments on a telescoping gangway.
Transportation Seating Area
An area, other than an assembly area, where fixed seats are provided for passengers.
An abbreviation for teletypewriter. Machinery that employs interactive text-based communication through the transmission of coded signals across the telephone network. TTYs may include, for example, devices known as TDDs (telecommunication display devices or telecommunication devices for deaf persons) or computers with special modems. TTYs are also called text telephones.
Use Zone
The area beneath and immediately adjacent to a play structure or play equipment that is designated by ASTM F1487 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use (incorporated by reference, see “Referenced Standards” in Chapter 1) for unrestricted circulation around the play equipment and where it is predicted that a user would land when falling from or exiting the play equipment.
Vehicular Way
A route provided for vehicular traffic.
Wheelchair Space
Space for a single wheelchair and its occupant.

Technical Assistance

Contact the Access Board for further guidance on access to passenger vessels