Access group thanks SSA for new ramp

Allison Burger and Steve Soriano co-presidents of VIP, presented SSA station manager Bridget Tobin with a certificate of appreciation. — Photo by Michelle Williams

Vineyard Independence Partnership (VIP) presented an award of appreciation on Wednesday to Steamship Authority station manager Bridget Tobin to thank the boat line for modifying passenger ramps to accommodate the needs of those with physical disabilities.

VIP said the SSA reduced the slope of its passenger ramps to allow passengers in wheelchairs to safely board the ferry.

Vineyard Independence Partnership is an organization of “individuals with disabilities, their family members, and friends working — and playing — to ensure that opportunities for a full life on Martha’s Vineyard are available to all,” according to a press release.

“Like all Islanders, the Steamship Authority is a vital link for both the fun and serious side of our lives,” Allison Burger, co-president of VIP, said in the press release.

Ms. Burger said that the modifications to the ramp will be appreciated by many, “from parents pushing strollers, to people using walkers or canes, or all those people pulling heavy luggage.”

The ramp modifications are the result of a complaint filed with the Massachusetts architectural access board in Boston in 2009.

The SSA practice had been to allow passengers with disabilities or in wheelchairs to board ferries over the vehicle ramps and use an onboard elevator to reach the passenger deck. The SSA was faced either with applying to the access board for a variance or constructing compliant ramps.

As a result the SSA at its four main terminals installed ramps that feature multiple switchbacks, as part of a $1.5 million retrofit required to comply with Massachusetts’ marine ramp requirements for people with physical disabilities.