Deaf Travelers Sue Burbank Airport
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 15, 2004
BURBANK, CALIFORNIA--A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Burbank's Bob Hope Airport, claiming that it discriminates against deaf and hard-of-hearing travelers.
The law firm Disability Rights Advocates filed the suit Monday in federal court in Los Angeles, claiming the airport violates the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by failing to provide basic access in the form of TTY telephones, along with monitors to display departure and arrival times and paging information.
"The 30 million people living in this country who are either deaf or have experienced some degree of hearing loss are tired of waiting for institutions such as airports, which serve the general public, to voluntarily provide the equal access that is required under the law," said DRA attorney Kevin Knestrick.
Knestrick added that he sent a letter to airport officials nearly two weeks ago warning of the potential lawsuit. He filed the suit after he got no response to that letter.
The suit asks for a court order to force the airport to add the accessibility features and to improve training for airport employees.
Sid Wolinsky, another DRA attorney, said that, while many airports do not have adequate services and facilities to assist such travelers, Bob Hope Airport is among the worst. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people often miss flights because changes in takeoff times and gate assignments are only announced verbally over the public address system rather than being displayed on video monitors.
Charles Lombardo, president of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, told the Associated Press that the airport is making the changes the advocates want as quickly as possible.
"I'm sorry if it wasn't as fast as they wanted," he said.
Disability Rights Advocates