Archive for ADA

Department of Justice Sues Chicago Cubs for ADA Violations after Wrigley Field Renovation

Wrigley Field in Chicago is one of major league baseball’s most iconic stadiums. More than 100 years old, the ballpark recently completed more than a hundred-million-dollar renovation to modernize and update it.

However, the Cubs organization is now facing a federal lawsuit for allegations that the stadium violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to public filings, the lawsuit alleges that the remodeling “removed the best wheelchair seating in the stadium, failed to incorporate wheelchair seating into new premium clubs and group seating areas, designed and constructed wheelchair seating in the last row of general admission areas that does not meet the requirements of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, and failed to remove architectural barriers to access in unaltered portions of Wrigley Field where it was readily achievable to do so.”

The 1060 Project, as the renovation was known, is charged with discriminating against individuals with disabilities in a statement by the United States Attorney’s Office. “The Cubs rebuilt much of Wrigley Field and had ample opportunity – and a significant ADA obligation – to incorporate wheelchair seating and other accessible elements into the updated facility,” said John Lausch, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois via statement.

Lausch said that the renovation, including tearing down and rebuilding the bleacher and lower grandstand, was subject to ADA requirements, but failed to provide the necessary accommodations.

Title III of the ADA makes it illegal for public accommodations (including sports stadiums) to exclude people with disabilities from enjoying the facilities. The lawsuit provides several specific examples of how the renovations affected people with disabilities:

  • The renovations added new premium and club seating while eliminating wheelchair seating except for those that are part of a group that has rented the space.
  • The only general wheelchair seats on the bleacher concourse are now in areas that are often obscured by television cameras or covered by a mesh tarp that prevents a line of sight to the field if spectators are standing.
  • Some new group seating areas are not wheelchair-accessible.
  • More than half of the wheelchair seats in the lower grandstand are in the very last row with obstructed views from overhangs.

Besides field viewing, the lawsuit also alleges that counters for ticket windows and concession stands are too high for wheelchair users and restrooms have paper towel dispensers that are too high.

In a statement, the Cubs said they are disappointed with the decision by the Department of Justice to file suit and hope to resolve the matter amicably. The DOJ is seeking changes to the facility and fines.

ADA Compliance Online

The American Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights law protecting the disabled was put in force in 1990. The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Discrimination is not allowed in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places enjoyed by the public by providing the disabled “reasonable accommodations” irrespectively of disability. For example, in the area of employment, reasonable accommodations are any modifications that help a covered person under the ADA to satisfy the essential job functions.

The essential purpose of the ADA is to allow people who are physically disabled to enter public buildings (via ramps, wide doors, large bathroom stalls, etc.) and to provide auditory and visual aids for those with visual and auditory impairments, as well as modified educational programs for the learning disabled. Internet websites were not contemplated by the ADA, and in 1990 there were no ADA accessibility rules for websites. Websites offer content and have not been considered to require modifications to comply with the ADA.

However, there are both linguistic and nonlinguistic elements of content that add to an understanding of such through the development of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG is prepared by a worldwide group of individuals and organizations. Standard guidelines are developed to make content accessible and meet the needs of website development by individuals, organizations, and governments internationally to place websites within the sphere of disability regulations. The focus on ADA compliance is on the elements of content such as:

a) perceivable issues,

b) operable issues involve the ability to navigate the website,

c) understandable issues to comprehend website content and

d) robust issues that test the strength and adaptability of the website to meet the linguistic needs of the disabled.

ADA is under the control of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Modifications of the WCAG guidelines are continually being upgraded. For example, the final rule of the WCAG 2.0 guideline was adopted in January 2017 and again in 2019. Initially, the WCAG guidelines were modified to update Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. To be ADA compliant, you must adopt the final rules prepared by the WCAG and the DOJ enforces website accessibility. The fail-safe method to be compliant is to find sources that tutor one in how to analyze the complexities of website compliance or retain professionals that apply the technical ADA rules of website compliance.

Massachusetts Case to Decide if Wi-Fi Signal Disrupts the Classroom Learning Environment

A Massachusetts school faces charges of impeding a student’s ability to learn because its WI-FI signal is so strong as to be distracting, states a federal court complaint.

mass-wifi-caseThe Supreme Court has affirmed a right to educational access in Brown vs, Board of Education (1954). Students with disabilities also have rights grounded in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Well, these issues, and others, are coming into play in a Massachusetts case involving high technology. A student at the Fay School in Southboro complains that the signal emissions from the institution’s Wi-Fi system cause severe irritation. As such, he and his parents have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the school is in violation of the ADA. The federal court plans to hear preliminary motions on September 4, five days prior to the start of classes.

At the heart of the matter is whether Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS), in which a person feels aggravated by electromagnetic radiation, is a real medical condition, deserving of ADA protection. The school apparently sent the 12-year old boy to its recommend doctor, who summarily dismissed the claim. Meanwhile, the parents have had the boy diagnosed with EHS, by another physician, saying he suffers from headaches and nausea when near high-frequency electromagnetic emissions.

The lawsuit seeks these things:

  • an injunction requiring either use of Ethernet cable Internet or reduction of the Wi-Fi signal.
  • $250,000 in damages.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes EHS. Others find its presence less than compelling. The boy’s parents believe the schools should err, if needed, on the side of helping students learn. Their son, they say, is in a 9-year plan to attend Fay and wants to remain. The Wi-Fi emissions are adversely affecting his learning; yet, the boy wants to stay at the school, as is his right, states the family.

It is very unclear just how the federal judge will rule. Also, one has to wonder if he will be able to make an appropriate decision in time to get the boy situated in school for the first day of classes.

School administrators and the family remain at loggerheads. Educators believe the Wi-Fi signal is well within federal standards. The boy’s parents, in contrast, believe the emissions above those in the average household.