Deaf Football Fan Sues University of Kentucky for Access

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Stein & Vargas, LLC, and the Knoll Law Firm, LLC initiated a lawsuit against the University of Kentucky in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on the behalf of Charles Mitchell, a deaf season-ticket holder to the University of Kentucky football games. Mitchell alleges that the University of Kentucky fails to provide captioning for announcements and information given over the public address system before, and during, and after University of Kentucky Wildcats home games at the Commonwealth Stadium in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The University of Kentucky’s failure to provide access to the stadium’s aural information (including but not limited to play-by-play commentaries, song lyrics and announcements) through auxiliary aids or services deprives plaintiff Charles Mitchell of the same enjoyment and benefits that hearing fans receive. Mitchell must guess the officials’ rulings and is not able to appreciate the songs being played, including the team’s fight songs, which are an important tradition at the university. He also misses out on announcements, which may consist of important emergency information.

“The University of Kentucky must stop depriving deaf and hard of hearing college football fans from fully enjoying the game. Captioning is not beyond their technological means or capabilities, as evident by other sport stadiums that provide in-game captioning,” said Bobbie Beth Scoggins, NAD President.

The NAD asks the court to order the University of Kentucky to immediately cease discrimination against deaf and hard of hearing game attendees by providing and displaying the captioning on the Jumbotrons and video monitors at the Commonwealth Stadium for all information made over the public address system, including all of the plays that just occurred, all of the penalties called, safety and emergency information, and any other announcements made over the public address system.

Links to similar stadium access cases:

Feldman vs. Washington Redskins

Sabino vs. Ohio State University