Disabled Woman Denied Access to Disneyland

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California told Disneyland it must consider permitting use of Segways by disabled people in its theme park.  A Segway is a two-wheeled mobility device operated while standing.

The dispute arose when Disneyland denied the request of a disabled woman, who suffered from limb girdle muscular dystrophy, to use a Segway in the park rather than a motorized wheelchair.  The disabled woman wanted to celebrate the birthday of eight-year-old daughter by taking her to the happiest place on earth.  She wanted to use a Segway rather than a motorized wheelchair because the Segway would enable her to remain standing, which she prefers because her disability makes it very difficult for her to stand up from a seated position.

The Court of Appeals in California held that federal law required Disneyland to consider permission of Segway-use by people with disabilities: “As new devices become available, public accommodations must consider using or adapting them to help disabled guests have an experience more akin to that of non-disabled.”  In order to disallow the Segway, Disneyland will have to demonstrate at trial how its usage would be unreasonably dangerous to patrons.

To read the news article from the Los Angeles Times, click here.

Disability Advocates Demand Closed-Captioning

A recent decision by a U.S. district court in Boston could potentially require Netflix to provide closed-captioning for the deaf, says Bob Egelko, writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.  The district court held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination in any venue, including the Internet.  This ruling competes with an opinion issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which held that the ADA only requires accommodations for people with disabilities in physical structures, such as stores, banks, churches, courthouses, etc.

The district court did not rule on the substantive factual issues, but merely set the stage for the parties to argue.  Now, those representing the disabled must prepare to demonstrate how failing to provide closed-captioning on Internet videos constitutes discrimination under the ADA.  Despite carrying the burden of proof, disability advocates should have a persuasive argument, especially in light of the fact that federal law already requires closed-captioning on television and some Internet videos.

Considering that some circuits, like the Ninth Circuit, have attempted to place physical limits on the scope of the ADA, the disability attorneys may be fighting an uphill battle if Netflix appeals the ruling.  Nevertheless, Arlene Mayerson, the disability lawyer representing the plaintiffs remains optimistic.  She says in the article, “By recognizing that websites are covered by the ADA, the court has ensured that the ADA stays relevant as much of our society moves from Main Street to the Internet.”

Click here to read the full article on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website.