[nfbwatlk] Fwd: [Chapter-presidents] NE tulsa OKlahoma . sues alaska zipline for descrimanation and wins

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Fri Nov 15 02:54:19 UTC 2013

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Steve C" <fire242 at sbcglobal.net>
> Date: November 14, 2013 at 17:50:39 PST
> To: "NFB Chapter Presidents discussion list" <chapter-presidents at nfbnet.org>
> Subject: [Chapter-presidents] NE tulsa OKlahoma . sues alaska zipline for descrimanation and wins
> Reply-To: NFB Chapter Presidents discussion list <chapter-presidents at nfbnet.org>
> As many of you may remember, Selena   & I were discriminated against when we were in Alaska last year.  For those of you that don’t know, here is the short story.  We had prepaid for a zipline tour in Talkeetna.  When we arrived they told us that we could not go on the tour because we could not see hand signals.  We have both ziplined many times before in several different countries.  We suggested to them that they simply say the words go and stop as has been done in the past and they said, “Our people aren’t trained to do that”.  We got our money back, spoke to Charley Brown at national office, & then filed a complaint with the DOJ.  We handled the case on our own without any attorneys.  Both parties agreed to mediation.  On the mediation call was the owner of the zipline company, his attorney, a judge acting as mediator, Steve and I.  The lawyer started out with a grand speech full of excuses.  They were a new company, we can’t expect them to change how they do business at a moments notice, etc.  I explained to them that a new zipline company had just opened in Tulsa last summer as well and we took a group of blind people there and they did not have any problems using voice commands.  I told them that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that every business in America whether they are just opening on their first day or they have been open for 20 years or more, they are all responsible for abiding by the ADA.  They argued that not all ziplines have a self-breaking mechanism, but that theirs does.  We told them we have done self-breaking before.  They argued that the zipline itself is not the only dangerous part but that there are open-air platforms as well.  I told them that first of all, you are tethered when you are on any platform.  Second of all, we have been on open-air platforms before.  Third of all and most importantly, they needed to get this notion of blind people being more klutzy or clumsy out of their heads because this stereotype was not based in reality and they had no proof to substantiate that.  I told them that whenever a sighted person discriminates against a blind person you can bet your butt that they are waiving the safety flag, but that a false belief is not enough to break the law.  They argued that their insurance company would charge them more if they let blind people zipline.  I told them that in order to deny us from ziplineing they would have to be able to prove that blind people are more dangerous when ziplining then sighted people and that they can’t prove that because I have the pictures to prove the opposite.  I also told them that their insurance company is not allowed to charge them more for obeying the ADA.  When I checked on auto insurance I was  given a quote from Century 21 and when I told them that I was legally blind and asked them how much more they were going to charge me they said that they could not charge me more because their statistics showed that blind drivers are safer drivers.  They were very quiet when I told them that.  If the insurance industry can’t prove that blind people are more dangerous drivers, there isn’t a  chance in hell that you can prove that we’re more dangerous ziplining.  When they apologized for our inconvenience I told them that if they were really sorry then they would have tried to contact us after the incident.  The owner said that he did not contact us because he was so inedited with letters from NFB members telling him what a terrible company they were.  This made us very happy since we had posted it on our FaceBook pages and requested that people write to them.  Steve told them that he knows some sighted people have gotten scared and closed their eyes and what do they do then, catch them right?  The owner said that when a sighted person comes in too fast they are warned the first time.  The second time they are given a more stern warning and the third time their tour is ended.  Steve said, “So you give sighted people 3 chances and you wouldn’t even give us one chance”.  They were speechless again.  They said that they have spoken to the experts on ziplining and they said that tandem is the way to go.  I told them that they may have spoken to some so called zipline experts but that when they are developing a policy relating to blind people they need to contact the experts on blindness and that  was us, the NFB.  Steve brought up the Norwegian Cruise Line case that the NFB had assisted with several years ago.  He explained to them that this was the same type of situation, sighted people believing that blind people are a safety threat and that therefore we had to do things differently – their way.  Norwegian said that among other things, blind passengers had to have a sighted person in their cabin with them.  Steve also told them the amounts that Norwegian had to pay to the blind passengers and to the government for breaking the law.  This seemed to scare them.  We asked for 3 things; a letter of apology, a written policy that is legal, and a financial settlement.  I thought that by now, a year later they would have read the ADA and have an understanding of it.  I thought that the policy would be the easiest thing to get and that we would spend most of our time arguing about money.  Boy was I wrong!  They were hell bent on requiring tandem.  They told us that they took some people with Downs Syndrome tandem and they loved it.  I told them that physical and mental impairments are different and that I really didn’t care who likes going tandem, we don’t.  They said that they didn’t WANT to change their policy.  I told them “This is America and I don’t care if you WANT to change your policy or not.  You don’t get to choose which laws you obey and which ones you don’t.  I promise you when this is all over, you WILL obey the law!”  The attorney got very upset stating that I said they couldn’t offer tandem at all.  I clarified once again saying that they can offer it to whomever they wanted, they just could not require it.  The attorney said that it was a reasonable accommodation under the law.  I informed him that under the law, we have the right to refuse any reasonable accommodation offered to us.  The attorney said, “I don’t think that is entirely true Selena”.  I said, “You don’t THINK because you don’t KNOW.  You don’t KNOW because you still after a year have not READ the ADA.  After you READ it then you will KNOW that I am right!”  I gave him another 2 weeks to do his job and read the applicable law.  Although I can’t disclose the amount of money that we received, I can tell you that we asked for more then we wanted and we have now received the check.  We have also received the letter of apology and most importantly, their new policy that we helped write is on their website and any subsequent changes will be on their website so we can always check on them.  Steve donated part of his money to our chapter. 
> written by; Selena Sundling
> _______________________________________________
> Chapter-presidents mailing list
> Chapter-presidents at nfbnet.org
> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/chapter-presidents_nfbnet.org
> To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for Chapter-presidents:
> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/options/chapter-presidents_nfbnet.org/k7uij%40panix.com

More information about the NFBWATlk mailing list