Carnival Corporation Settlement
On July 23, 2015, the United States and Carnival Corporation entered into a Settlement Agreement resolving an investigation into numerous complaints conducted by the United States under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Among the complaints were allegations that the company failed to: reasonably modify policies, practices and procedures to accommodate individuals with disabilities; ... afford individuals with disabilities the same opportunities to participate in the programs and services, ... and provide effective communication during muster and emergency drills.
Relevant elements of the agreement with respect to access for people who are blind include:
The agreement specifies that the Carnival Corporation (owner and operator of Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and the Holland America Line) will not engage in any practice that discriminates against individuals with disabilities in violation of Title III of the ADA. Carnival Corporation will designate an ADA Compliance Officer who will be responsible for compliance across the three brands. Carnival Corporation will also appoint an ADA Responsibility Officer for Carnival Cruise Line and for Holland America Group (which includes Holland America Line and Princess Cruises) who will have responsibility and authority to resolve ADA complaints for the respective brands. In addition, each covered sailing will have designated ADA Shipboard Officers available to address ADA issues that arise at sea.
Carnival Corporation will hire an ADA auditor to conduct surveys and audit each ship for compliance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design in areas open to the public and in designated accessible cabins and suites. The ADA auditor will develop a plan to remediate barriers to access on each ship in conjunction with the Company’s dry dock schedule, conduct on-site inspections to verify ADA compliance, and file a report annually with the Department of Justice.
Carnival Corporation and the Covered Brands will improve the accessibility of its websites and mobile applications by bringing them into compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level A and Level AA. In addition, Carnival Corporation has created new standards to ensure ADA compliance. These include:
- Accessibility Requests and Complaint Procedure
- Dissemination of Information Regarding Accessibility - Training
- Accessible Airport Transfers
- Embarkation and Disembarkation
- Shore Excursions
- Effective Communication
The Company's ships include places of public accommodation, inter alia, cabins, dining venues, specialty restaurants, bars and lounges, swimming pools, performance and movie theaters, internet cafes, spas and beauty salons, gymnasiums and outdoor jogging tracks, medical and auxiliary services (i.e., infirmary or medical center), and youth programs. Title III requires that the Company shall not discriminate against individuals on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations at any place of public accommodation.
The Company shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities unless it can demonstrate that taking such steps would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations being offered or would result in an undue burden. This includes an obligation to provide effective communication to companions who are individuals with disabilities.
"Effective Communication" means communication with persons with disabilities that is as effective as communications with others. Effective communication is achieved by furnishing appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from a good, service, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation that is afforded to other individuals.
The Company agrees that individuals with disabilities will be afforded the full and equal enjoyment of the Company's goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations, and will not be excluded, segregated, or otherwise treated differently than individuals without disabilities.