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In September 2010, three visually impaired women, who have long been patrons of the Walt Disney Company’s theme parks and website, filed a class action against two Walt Disney companies, alleging that Disney’s websites relating to its theme parks, hotels and restaurants are inaccessible to the visually impaired, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and other laws.
According to the class action complaint filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, the ADA requires Disney’s websites to respect the needs of the visually impaired, such as by accommodating the use of screen-reader technology. The Disney sites, which are created for Disney affiliate Walt Disney Parks and Resorts by two other affiliates, Disney Online and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online, are replete with video and audio trailers which cannot be turned off by people who cannot use a mouse and which drown out screen-readers. The websites also contain Flash content that is not accessible to blind persons. The Plaintiffs assert that Disney simply does not address the needs of people who are visually impaired in creating its webpages.
These allegations are brought along with broader allegations that Disney unlawfully discriminates against blind patrons, by refusing to reasonably accommodate the needs of guests with guide dogs, refusing to provide functional audio technology, refusing to provide Braille menus, schedules and maps, and more.
According to the class action complaint, Disney denies that it owes any special obligation to blind persons as a group, and asserts that decisions regarding accommodations for its visually impaired patrons must be made one guest at a time and not as a matter of company policy. The complaint also alleges that Disney denies an ability to estimate the number of visually impaired or blind guests who visit its resorts or its websites.
On February 14, the Plaintiffs filed their brief supporting certification of the class, a milestone event in any class action case. The Plaintiffs expect to establish that thousands of visually impaired patrons visit Disney’s parks, restaurants and hotels each year, and that the three named Plaintiffs” claims are common to those of the much larger class. The Complaint does not seek money damages from Disney, but only compliance with ADA and other laws which require Disney to accommodate the needs of, and not discriminate against, its visually impaired patrons.
Anyone desiring to obtain or share further information about Disney’s treatment of blind persons are invited to contact attorney Andy Dogali of Tampa, Florida, at 813.289.0700 or adogali(at)forizs-dogali(dot)com. The Plaintiffs” brief is available for review, along with the Class Action Complaint and other documents, at the “News” link on the attorney’s website, at http: //www.forizs-dogali.com.
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