Sports Fans Win Their Day in Court

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Sports Fans Win Their Day in Court

Oct 17 2008

In an opinion issued on September 30, 2008, a federal district court in Maryland held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires the Washington Redskins “to provide deaf and hard of hearing fans equal access to the aural information broadcast over the stadium bowl public address system at FedEx Field, which includes music with lyrics, play information, advertisements, referee calls, safety/emergency information, and other announcements.”

The lawsuit was brought in August 2006 on behalf of Redskins fans Shane Feldman, Brian Kelly, and Paul Singleton, who are deaf or hard of hearing and who regularly attend Washington Redskins home games at FedEx Field. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and Joseph B. Espo of Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP, represent the plaintiffs. The court’s ruling requires that FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Redskins, must provide auxiliary aids and services to make the game-day experience fully accessible for deaf and hard of hearing fans.

“We expect that stadiums, arenas and other sports venues will take heed and begin to follow the law on providing equal access to individuals with disabilities, including providing equal access to aural information for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Mr. Espo. “The court’s decision marks a significant victory for plaintiffs and the deaf and hard of hearing community,” said Marc Charmatz, NAD Senior Attorney. “The ADA applies to stadiums, and now a court, for the first time, has recognized that deaf and hard of hearing fans have a legal right to equal access at stadiums.”

The HLAA director of public policy, provided this information from a news release issued by the National Association of the Deaf, October 2, 2008.