A couple of weeks ago, I was invited on an “ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) tour” of a brand new oceanographic research vessel, the R/V Sikuliaq. Commissioned by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the Sikuliaq will be operated by the University of Alaska. It’s ice-strengthened hull will allow it to work in the Arctic for much of the year.
This vessel is somewhat unique in the U.S. academic fleet in that it was designed with a number of significant accommodations for persons with disabilities. Because research vessels are not “passenger vessels” , they are not required by federal law to have access in the same ways as ferries and public transit boats (water taxis etc). But about 8 years ago, the NSF and the University National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), the agency that is responsible for the U.S. oceanographic fleet, assembled ship operators, designers and some scientists to discuss how new research vessels could be made to be more accessible to all. Read More→