A proposed class action lawsuit claims the companies behind the hit musical “Hamilton” committed “systematic” civil rights violations by failing to provide blind and visually impaired individuals with audio description services that would allow them to fully enjoy the show.
The 11-page lawsuit, which was filed in New York district court, lists the below companies as defendants:
The lawsuit specifically alleges that the above defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which Congress created as a national mandate to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The defendants’ alleged conduct, the lawsuit says, denied blind and visually impaired individuals throughout the country equal access to the services it offers in its theaters.
The plaintiff who filed the lawsuit claims he contacted the Box Office in September 2016 to ask about interpretation services offered to blind and visually impaired people who attend “Hamilton” at the Richard Rodgers Threatre. According to the complaint, the plaintiff was told such services were unavailable.
“On September 22, 2016, [the plaintiff] contacted the Box Office to inquire [about] interpretation services for the blind and visually impaired in order to attend the musical, “Hamilton,” at Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York,” the complaint says. “However, the Box Office informed [the plaintiff] that interpretation services were not available. Unless [the defendants] provide audio description services, [the plaintiff] and class members will continue to be unable to enjoy the service provided in the Richard Rodgers Theatre.”
Audio description services are widely used and usually provided to blind and visually impaired folks through a battery-powered headset through which a narrative description of the visual action and scenery on stage are described. This technology, the lawsuit says, is essential for blind individuals looking to enjoy a live musical experience so they will know what is happening in scenes that do not feature dialogue or scenes “that include significant visual elements.”
From the lawsuit:
“The audio description technology is widely used in entertainment industries such as movie theaters. On November 21, 2016, Attorney General of the United States signed a final rule under the ADA to require covered movie theaters to have and maintain the equipment necessary to provide audio description at a movie patron’s seat. Given the similarities of the movie venue with the live theater venue, live theaters must also be required to provide live audio description to the blind.”
The lawsuit seeks to cover a proposed class that includes all blind individuals and those with visual impairments throughout the U.S. who have attempted to see the musical “Hamilton” at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
The full complaint can be read below.
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