June 29, 2011: Federal Judge Certifies Nationwide Class Action of Blind Persons who Visit Disney Websites

LOS ANGELES, CA – On June 29, 2011, United States District Court Judge Dolly Gee certified a nationwide class of blind persons in a class action pending in Los Angeles. The blind plaintiffs in the case do not seek money damages, but only seek an injunction requiring Disney to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by making its websites accessible to persons with visual impairments. 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.

Judge Gee certified four additional nationwide classes against Disney in the action brought by three blind women. The women are now certified to continue fighting, on behalf of America’s blind community, their allegations that: 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; and 4) Disney does not permit any discounted admission for sighted companions who must accompany and support blind persons in the theme parks.

Of the three blind plaintiffs who have taken up this fight against Disney, 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.

Disney Certification Order


June 29, 2011: Federal Judge Certifies Nationwide Class Action of Blind Persons who Visit Disney Theme Parks

LOS ANGELES, CA – On June 29, 2011, United States District Court Judge Dolly Gee certified a nationwide class of blind persons in a class action pending in Los Angeles. The blind plaintiffs in the case 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 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.

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.

Disney Certification Order


The Americans with Disabilities Act includes both public and private institutions of higher learning. If the school receives funding from the federal government either directly or indirectly through student loan programs, Schools are required to provide auxiliary aids and services as necessary to make sure that disabled students are not discriminated against in receiving an education. This can include sign language interpreters, note takers, closed captioning as just a few examples.

What happens when schools promote the use of technology in the class room which is not accessible. Four schools: Pace University, Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University and Reed College all promoted the use of the Amazon Kindle DX electronic reader for their students. Blind students complained that the Kindle was not accessible for their usage as well. The U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement in January 2010 with the four schools. Under the terms of the settlement, the schools agreed to not promote the use of the Kindle until it is made accessible.

This settlement is a powerful tool in ensuring accessibility. Providers of educational products and services will need to think about accessibility issues in order to successfully market to education institutions. For schools, this is an illustration of one of the many ways the ADA impacts how education is delivered to students with disabilities.


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