We now have 942 members representing 47 states and Puerto Rico. We are also proud to claim members in Canada, Hong Kong and Australia. Our Board of Directors stands at 28, our Executive Committee at 6, our Attorneys represent 4 law firms and our Consultants number 6. We want to acknowledge here our debt to the members of our Board of Directors and our Executive Committee for their support, their encouragement and their many kinds of contributions to our goals. Most particularly, we want to express our appreciation to our First Vice-President, Marla Dumas, for assuming that mantle of responsibility. Above all, our deepest appreciation goes to the attorneys and consultants who handle all our cases. Contrary to what is widely believed by the public, these are professionals who, although they earn their livings, in part, through these efforts, are primarily attracted to this work by their belief in and dedication to our mission!
Finally, we would be quite remiss if we failed to mention the enormous contributions of our computer consultants, Gregory Arkin and Alain Ginzberg, without whom we would not be able to function! Above all, I want to express my everlasting gratitude to our assistant extraordinaire, Thomas Miller, for composing and typing the bulk of this newsletter and for so much more. Without him this publication would be impossible to achieve!
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF OUR LITIGATION
Since our February newsletter, Access Now, Inc.® has made progress in settling cases in several states. We have filed a total of 979 cases since our inception. Presently, there are 159 cases with outstanding Settlement Agreements, requiring alterations or modifications which in several cases should be completed by August 1, 2011, or later. (Cases involving hospitals and other large or complex facilities have post-settlement compliance completion dates much further in the future.) During the past six months, Access Now® has entered into 16 additional settlements to make hospitals ADA-compliant. (See more detailed, important information about that below.)
Access Now® continues to assert itself nationally in scope. The states in which cases have been settled in the past six months range from the Midwest to the Atlantic shore. We will continue expanding our geographical presence as best we can as we continue to receive requests for information and assistance from around the country and internationally. Please notify us if you become aware of a situation where access continues to be denied. Access Now® remains solidly in the forefront of the fight for accessibility.
The following is a brief listing of the cases that have been settled since our last newsletter:
Hospitals (# of beds)
Trident Health Systems (440) Charleston SC
Southwest Texas Methodist Hospital (18) San Antonio TX
North Austin Hospital (128) Austin TX
South Austin Hospital (20) Austin TX
St. David’s Medical Center (43) Austin TX
Research Medical Center (42) Kansas City MO
OU Medical Center (935) Oklahoma City OK
Northeast Methodist Hospital (122) San Antonio TX
Metropolitan Methodist Hospital (339) San Antonio TX
Methodist Specialty & Transplant Hospital (20) San Antonio TX
Swedish Medical Center (1245) Englewood CO
North Suburban Medical Center (128) Thornton CO
Presbyterian / St. Luke’s Medical Center (680) Denver CO
Rose Medical Center (420) Denver CO
Sky Ridge Medical Center (185) Lone Tree CO
Medical Center of Aurora (314) Aurora CO
We continue to make significant progress in the healthcare area. The total of 16 Health Corporation of America (HCA) facilities listed in this newsletter brings to 203 the total adjudicated at Fairness Hearings over the past two years. The 16 facilities have a total of 5,079 beds in thirteen states. As a consequence, over 42,000 beds have now been made accessible or are in the process of being made accessible because of our legal action.
We continue to be actively involved in cases involving medical institutions because of our strong belief that they constitute one of the most important ways to enhance the quality of life of the disabled community. These hospital settlements will make a great difference to members of our community. The settlements show that the ADA can work when there are dedicated advocates and attorneys using it for our benefit. ADDITIONALLY, we are now embarking on bringing into compliance several more hundreds of hospitals throughout the nation. TO THAT END, WE NEED YOUR ASSISTANCE:
It would be of great, great help if any of you reading this newsletter would let us know about accessibility problems of any kind which you have encountered or of which you are aware, whether they involve barriers, vision or audio problems, at any of the hospitals listed above or indeed at ANY hospital in the nation that you do use, have used or are planning to use (i.e., if you would be in the #911 area of and/or geographically within reasonable distance of). If so, please notify us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a postal letter to Access Now, Inc. ® at 19333 West Country Club Drive, #1522, Aventura, Florida 33180.
BRINGING HOSPITALS INTO COMPLIANCE WITH THE ADA IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WITH WHICH WE SHOULD ALL BE ACTIVELY INVOLVED! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR COOPERATION IN THIS REGARD!
Finally, our ongoing legal efforts demand that I comment on a case in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Attorney Ed Zwilling reports that things are going well with our case involving “approximately six city parks and curb ramps, sidewalks and parking in the downtown business district of Knoxville.” Ed has been able to work very cooperatively with the city in developing a plan for addressing these issues. He has also been able to leverage his experience in previous cases to engage the city in addressing these issues in the most time and cost effective manner possible. We will keep you informed about Ed’s progress in reaching a settlement in the City of Knoxville case.
NON-ACCESS NOW® LEGAL MATTERS
We want to keep you informed about important
recent litigation around the country, of which you might not be aware, as well as to update information from our previous newsletters affecting the rights of the disabled. We think it is important for our members to keep abreast of successes realized by and within the disabled community, whether accomplished by Access Now or by other organizations. We are all in this fight together!
Lawsuit Filed Against Netflix for Lack of Captions
On June 16, 2011, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the Western Massachusetts Association of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired and deaf Massachusetts resident Lee Nettles filed a federal lawsuit against Netflix, Inc. The lawsuit charges Netflix with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide closed captioning for most of its “Watch Instantly” movies and television streamed on the Internet. (National Association of the Deaf et al v. Netflix, Inc.)
An estimated 36 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing. The deaf and hard of hearing community has repeatedly expressed concerns – via letters, petitions, blogs, and social media – to Netflix about its failure to provide equal access to “Watch Instantly”. The New York Times has described Netflix as the “only major player in the online-only video subscription business.” Netflix has over 60% of the streamed video services market share.
“We have tried for years to persuade Netflix to do the right thing and provide equal access to all content across all platforms. They chose not to serve our community on an equal basis; we must have equal access to the biggest provider of streamed entertainment. As Netflix itself acknowledges, streamed video is the future and we must not be left out,” said NAD President Bobbie Beth Scoggins.
“There is no excuse for Netflix to fail to provide captions so that deaf and hard of hearing customers have access to the same movies and TV shows as everyone else,” stated Arlene Mayerson, Directing Attorney of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), the lead attorneys, “Netflix admits that there is no technological issue. For people who are deaf and hard of hearing, captions are like ramps for people who use wheelchairs.”
The ADA requires that all “places of entertainment” provide “full and equal enjoyment” for people with disabilities. Plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that Netflix’s behavior constitutes a violation of Title III of the ADA, and to require that Netflix provide closed captions on all of its streaming content. DREDF and NAD ask deaf and hard of hearing individuals who want to learn more about the lawsuit to visit: http://www.dredf.org/captioning, call the toll-free number 1-800-348-4232 (V), or email email@example.com.