New US Department of Transportation Rule Extends Disability Protections to
Passenger Ships and Boats
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced the first federal rule to
specifically provide Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protections to
people with disabilities who travel on boats and ships. The action comes as
the 20th anniversary of the ADA approaches on July 26, 2010.
“This Administration is committed to protecting the rights of passengers
with disabilities in all modes of transportation,” said Secretary LaHood.
“This rule will ensure fair treatment for people with disabilities who
travel by ship or boat.”
The rule applies to two categories of vessels: vessels operated by public
entities, such as public ferry systems, and vessels operated by private
entities primarily engaged in the business of transporting people, such as
The rule will ensure that vessel operators’ policies do not discriminate
against passengers with disabilities. Under the rule, vessel operators
cannot charge extra for accessibility-related services to passengers, cannot
require passengers to furnish their own attendants, and cannot deny access
to passengers based on disability. Vessel operators will have to provide
information to passengers about the accessibility of their facilities and
services and make a knowledgeable person available to resolve accessibility
This rule does not establish physical accessibility standards for new
construction or alteration of vessels. The Access Board, an independent
agency, is currently developing proposed accessibility guidelines that the
Department would adopt in a subsequent rulemaking.
Department of Justice (DOJ) regulations will cover a third category of
vessels not covered by DOT’s rules – those operated by private entities not
primarily engaged in the business of transporting people, such as fishing
charters and dinner cruise boats.
The new rule will become effective 120 days after it is published. There
will be a 90-day comment period concerning three issues: whether vessel
operators should be required to allow passengers with disabilities to bring
emotional support animals on board, requirements operators must follow
concerning the use of mobility aids, and the relationship of DOT and DOJ
The rule is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov; , docket
DOT-OST-2007-26829. Links: http://www.regulations.gov
And, here is a blog on it as well from the Department of Transportation:
As the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
approaches–July 26–we are proud to announce today the first federal rule
to specifically provide ADA protections to people with disabilities who
travel on boats and ships.
This Administration is committed to protecting the rights of passengers with
disabilities in all modes of transportation, and this new rule will extend
that protection aboard maritime vessels.
It’s the right thing to do…
You can read more the maritime extension of ADA protections at