Disney accessibility lawsuit settled before trial

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Thursday, 24 November 2011 16:31pm

A lawsuit made against the Walt Disney Company’s theme parks and websites by three blind women in the USA has been settled out of court, ahead of its scheduled trial date of January 2012.

The three plaintiffs from California and Kansas filed the lawsuit against Disney in September 2010. The suit argued that Disney was in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (2008) by failing to cater to people with disabilities across its parks and websites. The plaintiffs cited Disney’s websites as being indecipherable for screen readers, as well as having a slate of Flash, video and audio content that people who are vision or hearing impaired may have difficulty accessing.

They also claimed Disney’s parks and resorts lacked accessible resources such as audio description. Another chief complaint was that Disney’s parks and resorts did not provide maps, schedules and restaurant menus with braille or in a form that is accessible to vision impaired patrons.

Following the initial lawsuit claim made in September, Disney made audio description available outdoors for park and resort patrons. The audio description device is a hand held piece of technology that assists patrons who are vision impaired by describing important theme park features.  Previously, audio description was only available for use at indoor rides and attractions.

The settlement of the lawsuit against such a high profile corporation as Disney and its companies comes as a disappointment to many as it would have placed a spotlight on the need for online and offline services to be designed with people with a disability in mind.

In a statement, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Andy Dogali said: “We are presently documenting the settlement, so most of the precise details remain confidential, although I expect the process to require no more than another few weeks.”

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