On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by then President George H.W. Bush. With the enaction of the ADA, the rights of individuals with physical and mental disabilities were both recognized and protected. Provisions of the ADA help ensure that government offices and private businesses take steps to ensure their premises are safe and accessible for individuals why a variety of physical disabilities.
Twenty-five years after the ADA was passed into law, the U.S. Department of Justice recently settled a lawsuit filed against one of the largest cruise industry providers, Carnival Corp. The settlement stems from numerous complaints that were filed by disabled cruise ship passengers which detailed numerous accessibility and safety violations encountered while aboard the cruise line's 62 ships.
Included among the complaints were allegations against the cruise line for failing to "provide accessible cabins for individuals with mobility disabilities." Additionally, disabled passengers asserted that Carnival Corp. failed to provide them with "the same opportunities to participate in programs and services, including embarkation and disembarkation," and with for their safety and participation in safety and emergency drills.
Narrow stairwells, slippery pool decks and sudden changes in floor elevations make cruise ships dangerous environments for individuals with no physical limitations or disabilities. In cases where an individual is in a wheelchair or walks with a cane, these and other hazards can make navigating a cruise ship dangerous to impossible.
As part of the settlement with the Justice Department, Carnival Corp. must take steps to ensure their ships meet ADA accessibility standards. Additionally, the cruise giant must pay a $55,000 penalty to the U.S. government and $350,000 to disabled passengers who "were harmed by past discrimination," due to the company's failure to ensure ships were ADA compliant.
Source: The Post and Courier, "Carnival reaches settlement in federal ADA probe of cruise ships," David Wren, July 27, 2015