Information for Passengers with Disabilities
Here you can find Information for Passengers with Disabilities, jump to a section of interest by clicking the links below.
Passengers Needing Assistance
The Steamship Authority attempts to accommodate the special reservations needs of our customers with disabilities or those who are traveling with someone with a disability. If you require this type of assistance, please contact us so we can discuss your particular situation and review what accommodations we can provide. (TTY for the hearing impaired is available at (508) 540-1394.)
Generally, if you’ll be traveling with a vehicle reservation and will require assistance because of a disability, the Steamship Authority’s Reservation Office will add this information to your reservation so that our employees at the departure terminal will be alerted to your needs. Similarly, if you’re making your reservation on our website, you can check a box during the “check-out” process indicating that you will require assistance boarding a vessel and/or to access to the vessel’s elevator. At the time of boarding, our terminal employees will in turn inform the vessel’s crew of any assistance you will require while aboard the vessel.
Vessel Accessibility Information
All passenger decks of all four of the Steamship Authority’s traditional passenger/vehicle ferries (the M/V Eagle, the M/V Island Home, the M/V Martha's Vineyard and the M/V Nantucket) are fully accessible.
- Each ferry is equipped with elevators that transport passengers between the vehicle deck and all passenger decks (including the food and beverage service area). Access to the elevator is by the transfer bridge that is used to load vehicles onto the ferry.
- Passengers wishing to use the elevator should arrive at the ferry terminal thirty (30) minutes prior to their scheduled departure time. Upon arriving, they should notify a Terminal Agent (or the terminal employee checking them in) that they require access to the elevator for boarding. This applies to all passengers who wish to use the elevator whether or not they are traveling with their vehicles.
- Accessible rest rooms are also available on all four of our large passenger/vehicle ferries.
The main passenger deck of the M/V Iyanough is fully accessible (including rest rooms and the food and beverage service area). Access to the M/V Iyanough’s main passenger deck is by the transfer bridge that is used to board all passengers onto the ferry. The M/V Iyanough’s upper deck is not accessible.
Vessels With Limited Or No Accessibility
The Steamship Authority encourages passengers with disabilities to travel on our four traditional passenger/vehicle ferries and our high-speed passenger-only ferry, the M/V Iyanough, all of which are accessible and have passenger amenities, including food and beverage service and accessible rest rooms. However, because passengers with disabilities may also travel on our freight boats, please be aware that not all of them are accessible. The freight boats are described below:
Access to each of these freight boats is by the transfer bridge that is used to board all passengers and vehicles onto the ferry. The interior passenger compartment that is located on the vehicle deck and the rest rooms are also accessible. Vending machines that offer beverages and snacks are available on both of these vessels.
The two freight boats mentioned above are not accessible for passengers with disabilities who require assistance. Passengers will need to climb a set of stairs to reach the interior passenger compartment. Vending machines that offer beverages only are available on both of these vessels.
Accessible Ferry Terminals
All of the Steamship Authority’s ferry terminals are accessible and have accessible rest rooms.
Accessible Parking Spaces and Shuttle Buses
A certain number of parking spaces at each of the Steamship Authority’s terminals—as well as at the more convenient of our mainland off-site parking facilities—are reserved for use by individuals with disabilities. If you use one of these parking spaces on a daily basis, you will be subject to the daily parking charges. You may also purchase parking permits in lieu of paying the daily parking charge, if you are otherwise eligible for such permits.
There are usually enough parking spaces at the Steamship Authority’s Woods Hole and Hyannis ferry terminals to accommodate all individuals with disabilities. However, if you must park at one of our off-site parking lots, the shuttle buses to the Woods Hole and Hyannis ferry terminals are accessible and equipped with wheelchair lifts.
Discounted Passenger Fares
Individuals with disabilities may apply for a Steamship Authority Transportation Access Pass which, when approved and issued by us, entitles the holder to a discounted fare upon its presentation with appropriate identification to a ticket seller. In order to be eligible for a Steamship Authority Transportation Access Pass, an individual must complete and submit an application for the pass in the form provided by the Steamship Authority (with certification from a licensed health care professional, if necessary) demonstrating that the individual:
- has a permanent physical disability that substantially limits one or more of the individual’s major life activities affecting the individual’s mobility or coordination; or
- suffers from a serious, long-term mental illness, or is a current recipient of services through the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health or the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services; or
- is a veteran with a disability rating of 70% or greater.
The application form for a Steamship Authority Transportation Access Pass can be downloaded from our forms by clicking here. Applications for a Steamship Authority Transportation Access Pass are also available at all of our ferry terminals.
Click here to view or download or discounted passenger fares for individuals with disabilities (with a Steamship Authority Transportation Access Pass).
Free Travel for Legally Blind Passengers
Any passenger who is legally blind travels for free with proper identification from either the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind or a similar agency of another State. If the passenger is accompanied by a helper or companion, the helper or companion also travels for free.
Preferential Boarding of Individuals with Disabilities Traveling with Their Vehicles on Standby
The Steamship Authority allows the preferential boarding of vehicles of certain individuals with disabilities traveling on standby in accordance with the following guidelines:
Persons Eligible for Preferential Boarding
Individuals with disabilities who are traveling on a standby basis and who must travel with their vehicles due to their disabilities are eligible for preferential boarding of their vehicles in accordance with these guidelines. An individual with a disability may need to travel with his or her vehicle for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the need to travel with a motorized wheelchair or an adequate oxygen supply or other equipment that the individual needs due to to the individual’s disability.
Preferential Boarding of Vehicles
In order for the Steamship Authority to allow the preferential boarding of an individual’s vehicle under these guidelines, the individual or the individual’s attending physician or other person accompanying the individual, as the case may be, must contact the Terminal Agent to explain the need for the preferential boarding of the individual’s vehicle. The Terminal Agent shall then discuss with the individual, physician and/or other person the alternatives for transportation and boarding that are available, and they shall agree upon the alternative most suitable for the situation presented. Suitable alternatives for transportation and boarding may include the following:
- Placing the individual’s vehicle at the front of the standby line, or in another preferential place in the standby line, with or without accompanying passengers; or
- Boarding the individual’s vehicle within a designated time period; or
- Transporting the individual without his or her vehicle, after ascertaining that the individual will be provided with alternative means of transportation upon arrival, in which event arrangements may also be made to transport the individual’s vehicle at a later time.
The Terminal Agent, at his or her discretion, may require the verification of any information submitted prior to, at the time of, or after the individual’s arrival at the terminal. At a minimum, the Terminal Agent shall record the name, address and telephone number of the individual needing preferential boarding, as well as the person making the request. If the individual needs preferential boarding when returning, the Terminal Agent also shall advise the individual or other person accompanying the individual to contact the Steamship Authority’s Reservation Office for that purpose.
Advance Reservation of Preferred Spaces by Eligible Customers
The Steamship Authority allows preferred spaces to be reserved in advance by eligible customers who must travel with their vehicles either (a) due to their disabilities; or (b) for medical appointments or treatments; or (c) to attend a funeral service upon the death of a member of their immediate family; provided, however, that such reservations must be made in accordance with the following guidelines.
Persons Eligible for Advance Reservation of Preferred Spaces
The Steamship Authority will allow individuals to reserve preferred spaces before they are released to other preferred customers only if the individuals:
- are profiled as being eligible to reserve a preferred space; and
- have a need to travel with their vehicles either due to their disabilities, or for medical appointments or treatments, or to attend a funeral service upon the death of a member of their immediate family.
Procedure for Advance Reservation of Preferred Spaces
Eligible customers may make advance reservations of preferred spaces as follows:
- Eligible customers requesting such reservations should contact the Mashpee Reservation Office during regular office hours at any of the following telephone numbers and ask to speak to the Supervisor on duty: (508) 477-8600 (508) 693-9130 (508) 228-3274
- Before being allowed to reserve a preferred space in advance, eligible customers will be required to submit written verification of their eligibility and need for the advance reservation, in such form as determined by the Supervisor. For example, the Supervisor may determine that such verification should be in the form of a letter from the customer’s attending physician or health care facility. The Supervisor will also advise each customer of the manner in which the verification should be submitted (e.g., by mail or fax).
Other Transportation Alternatives.
In the event there are no reservations for a preferred space available for an eligible customer, the Supervisor will discuss with the customer other transportation alternatives that might be available and appropriate for the situation presented. Such alternatives may include the preferential boarding of the customer’s vehicle under the Steamship Authority’s Emergency Transportation Policy or under the Steamship Authority’s Policy Allowing the Preferential Boarding of Vehicles of Certain Individuals with Disabilities.
Emergency Transportation Policy
In emergency situations, the Steamship Authority will allow the preferential boarding of an ambulance or a customer’s vehicle in accordance with the following guidelines.
Definition of Emergency Situation
For the purposes of this policy, an emergency situation exists in the following circumstances:
- An ambulance or a customer’s vehicle needs to be transported from the island to the mainland without delay so that an individual can receive emergency medical care which is not available on the island; or
- A customer’s vehicle needs to be transported from the island to the mainland without delay so that the patron can attend to a death or an unexpected serious illness or injury of a member of the patron's immediate family on the mainland.
Emergency Transportation of Ambulances
In order for the Steamship Authority to allow the preferential boarding of an ambulance, the ambulance company or hospital must contact the Terminal Agent as soon as possible after being apprised of the emergency situation to explain the ambulance's need for preferential boarding. The Terminal Agent shall then discuss with the ambulance company and/or hospital the alternatives for boarding that are available for the ambulance, and they shall agree upon the alternative most suitable for the emergency situation presented. When deciding how an ambulance should be boarded, the Terminal Agent generally shall observe the following guidelines:
- An ambulance carrying an individual who needs emergency medical care shall be allowed to board immediately;
- An ambulance traveling to pick up an individual who needs emergency medical care also shall be allowed to board immediately, unless the ambulance company or hospital agrees that traveling on a later vessel will not pose a risk of harm to the individual;
- An ambulance returning to its port of origination after having carried an individual needing emergency medical care shall be allowed to board within a designated time period agreed upon between the ambulance company and the Terminal Agent, but will not necessarily be allowed to travel on the next departing vessel.
Emergency Transportation of Customers’ Vehicles
In order for the Steamship Authority to allow the preferential boarding of a customer’s vehicle, the customer’s attending physician (or, when the emergency involves a member of the customer’s immediate family, the physician caring for the family member) or hospital or funeral home, as the case may be, must contact the Terminal Agent to explain the customer’s need for preferential boarding. The Terminal Agent shall then discuss with the physician, hospital and/or funeral home the alternatives for transportation and boarding that are available for the customer, and they shall agree upon the alternative most suitable for the emergency situation presented. Suitable alternatives for transportation and boarding may include the following:
- Immediate transportation and boarding of the customer by ambulance, which shall be encouraged by the Terminal Agent whenever there is a reasonable possibility that the customer may need medical care or monitoring while on board the vessel;
- Immediate boarding of the customer’s vehicle with or without accompanying medical personnel;
- Boarding of the customer’s vehicle within a designated time period; or
- Transporting the customer to the mainland without his or her vehicle, after ascertaining that the customer will be provided with alternative means of transportation upon arrival there, in which event arrangements may also be made to transport the customer’s vehicle to the mainland at a later time.
The Terminal Agent, at his or her discretion, may require the verification of any information submitted prior to, at the time of, or after the customer’s arrival at the terminal. At a minimum, the Terminal Agent shall record the name, address and telephone number of the customer needing preferential boarding, as well as the physician, hospital and/or funeral home making the request. When requested, the Terminal Agent also shall inform the physician when the vessel carrying the customer has departed and, if the customer needs preferential boarding when returning to the island, shall advise the customer to contact the Steamship Authority’s Mainland Reservation Office.
Provisions for Bumping Other Vehicles with Reservations
A Terminal Agent may refuse to board any customer’s vehicle, whether or not that customer has a reservation for a particular trip, whenever it is necessary to board an ambulance or other vehicle in an emergency situation. In such a situation:
- The Terminal Agent shall first ask for volunteers, informing them when they will be transported if they agree to be bumped from that particular trip. If an insufficient number of customers volunteer to be bumped to meet the emergency situation, the Terminal Agent shall then bump the last vehicle(s) which checked in at the terminal for that particular trip.
- The Steamship Authority shall refund each affected customer’s one-way fare for both the bumped vehicle and its passengers. Bumped vehicles shall have priority for boarding on the next vessel leaving the terminal (except for vessels carrying hazardous cargo), and vehicles bumped as a result from that subsequent trip shall similarly be considered as having been bumped due to an emergency situation.
Discounted Automobile Excursion Fare for Island Residents Who Need to Travel for Multiple Medical Treatments or Appointments
The Steamship Authority also provides a discounted automobile excursion fare for island residents who need to travel to the mainland with their vehicles on a repeated basis for special medical treatments or appointments. The rate is equal to one-half of the excursion fare, based on the time of the year and the size of the vehicle, and is available only to those island residents who are already eligible for the excursion fare, are profiled as such in the Steamship Authority’s reservation system, and meet the following additional requirements:
- Eligible residents must have a series of at least 10 scheduled medical treatments or appointments over a three-month period for the same medical condition.
- Vehicle reservations at this reduced rate must be requested and arranged through the Reservation Manager or a Supervisor at the Mashpee Reservation Office.
- Supporting documentation from a doctor or medical office will need to be provided at the time of the request for this reduced fare.
- The Reservation Manager and Supervisors will be allowed, at their discretion, to make other special travel arrangements upon request for those island residents requiring frequent treatments or appointments on the mainland for the same medical condition.
Availability of a Complaints Resolution Official (“CRO”)
In any situation when any person complains or raises a concern with a Steamship Authority employee about discrimination, policies or services with respect to passengers with a disability, and the employee (or the employee’s supervisor) does not immediately resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction or provide a requested accommodation, the customer has the right to contact our Complaints Resolution Official (“CRO”). The employee will provide the customer with the CRO’s phone number and, if requested by the customer, the number of the Massachusetts TRS service (which is a relay service for individuals who use text telephones called “MassRelay”). The employee will also provide this information to the passenger in a format he or she can use.
The CRO will be available for contact on each vessel and at each terminal via telephone. The customer will be allowed to use a Steamship Authority phone (either the vessel’s phone or the terminal’s phone, as the case may be) to contact the CRO so that the call will be at no cost to the customer. In addition, the number for the MassRelay service will be available so that persons with hearing impairments may readily communicate with the CRO.
The CRO has the authority to make dispositive resolution of complaints on behalf of the Steamship Authority. This means that the CRO has the power to overrule the decision of any other personnel, except that the CRO may not countermand a decision of the master of a vessel with respect to safety matters.
The Steamship Authority has designated General Counsel Steven M. Sayers to be its CRO. His telephone number is (508) 493-5987. If he does not answer the phone, the customer should leave a voicemail message asking Mr. Sayers to call the customer back (and identifying the telephone number which Mr. Sayers should call). If Mr. Sayers does not promptly return the customer’s call, the customer should then call one of the Steamship Authority substitute CRO’s, as follows:
- For the Vessels: Port Captain Charles G. Gifford – (508) 889-0952
- For the Terminals: Director of Terminal and Parking Operations Mark K. Rozum – (508) 326-2167
The MassRelay service is available within Massachusetts only. The telephone number for the MassRelay service is 711, or customers may choose to call 1-800-439-2370 (TTY/ASCII) or 1-800-439-0183 (Voice), among other telephone numbers.