On June 29, 2011, in the United States District Court Central District of California, Case No. CV 10-05810-DMG-FMO, Judge Dolly Gee certified a nationwide class of blind persons in a class action pending in Los Angeles. The blind plaintiffs in the case, represented by Andy Dogali of Forizs & Dogali, P.A. and Gene Feldman of Eugene Feldman, Attorney at Law do not seek money damages, but only seek an injunction requiring Disney to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by making its theme parks and websites accessible to persons with visual impairments.
Judge Gee certified five distinct classes who make the following allegations against Walt Disney Parks & Resorts: 1) Disney does not provide schedules, menus and maps in formats which are accessible to blind persons, such as in Braille, large print, or electronic form; 2) Disney does not accommodate the needs of guide dogs; 3) Disney does not accommodate the needs of blind persons during live parades and shows; 4) Disney does not permit any discounted admission for sighted companions who must accompany and support blind persons in the theme parks; and 5) Disney’s websites do not accommodate blind persons who use screen reader programs to access information.
Blind persons routinely use screen reader programs when surfing the internet. As the blind visitor tabs through or drags a cursor over elements of a webpage, screen reader programs read the content aloud. The plaintiffs allege that Disney’s websites unlawfully include information which is visible to sighted users but not to screen reader programs, as well as options which are available to sighted persons but not to blind persons, such as the ability to renew passes, make reservations, and download electronic tickets.
The three plaintiffs who have taken up this fight against Disney and who are now certified to represent blind persons across America are all women. Two reside in Southern California, the other in Wichita, Kansas. They are represented by class counsel Andy Dogali of Tampa, Florida and Gene Feldman of Los Angeles. Mr. Feldman, who operates a boutique disability law practice, said the ruling represents “an important victory for blind persons who otherwise enjoy the Disney experience but who seek simple fairness and equal treatment under the ADA”. The case is now set for trial in January, 2012.
The 45-page certification order is available at . More information for Mr. Dogali is available at http://www.forizs-dogali.com, and for Mr. Feldman at http://www.californiadisabilitylawfirm.com. Mr. Dogali may be reached at (813) 289-0700 and Mr. Feldman at (310) 372-4636.
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