Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Disney Parks Refutes Lawsuit Claiming Discrimination Against Autistic Kids

By DOMINIC PATTEN | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 1:22pm PDTTags: Americans With Disabilities ActDisney

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts today denied allegations in a lawsuit filed by families of children with developmental disorders that the company has caused them suffering and violated the American With Disabilities Act. The 57-count complaint (read it here), filed last week, seeks damages, injunctive relief, and declaratory relief forviolations of the ADA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. ”Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all our guests,” a Disney Parks and Resorts spokesperson said today. “We fully comply with all ADA requirements and believe that the legal claims are without merit.” The scathing legal action filed by 16 children and young adults with autism and other developmental disorders and their guardians and parents contends that Disney’s recently implemented Disability Access Service violates federal and state law and is completely unsuited to the needs of individuals with such special needs. Disney disagrees. “Our Disability Access Service is designed for guests who, due to certain disabilities, cannot tolerate extended wait times at attractions. In circumstances where the service might not meet guests needs, we work individually with guests to ensure we are able to accommodate them,” said the company in a statement.

The 176-page complaint also alleges that, at the same time Disney moved to the DAS system last October, the Parks and Resorts division created a secret ”Magic List” program that could actually help solve a lot of their concerns. “The Magic List is a secret list of persons to whom Disney will automatically extend, without the stigma of a ‘Disability’ card, and without amandatory photograph, and without the newly-ingrained disrespect of Disney employees, five immediate-entry, no-appointment ride passes,” says the April 3 filing in federal court. “The Magic List does not perfectly accommodate the special needs of all persons with cognitive impairments, but it is considerably better than the recklessly inadequate DAS card,” it adds. “Disney is withholding the existence of the ‘Magic List’ from the broader community of families in which someone has a cognitive impairment. By doing so, Disney continues to deter families from visiting the Parks or making plans to do so.” While Disney has a Make-A-Wish Foundation program that provides front-of-the-line access among other privileges, the “Magic List” the plaintiffs allege seems to be something very different. A WDPR spokesperson denied to Deadline any knowledge of the so-called Magic List

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