University of Md. Sued by National Association of the Deaf

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The University of Maryland discriminates against deaf fans by not providing captioning on scoreboards at sports events at Byrd Stadium and Comcast Center, or so claims a lawsuit filed in federal court by the National Association of the Deaf.

The suit being filed on behalf of two Terps fans, Sean Markel and Dr. Joseph Innes, who demand captioning “for referee calls, play-by play commentary, song lyrics, safety and emergency information, half-time entertainment, post-game conferences, or any other aural information projected into the stadium bowls or concourse areas before, during, or after games.”

The University says it’s already doing plenty for deaf fans by providing live captioning of game announcements on a website accessible by smartphone or tablet. The University even “offer[s] the loan of tablets on gameday for those who require one.”

But that’s not enough, according to Joseph B. Espo, the lawyer who filed the suit. He says “the University and its employees have known about this for years and did nothing,” this apparently referring to deaf fans’ desire to have captions displayed “on the scoreboards, LED ribbon boards, and/or Jumbotron at Byrd Stadium and Comcast Center [and] for those captions to be visible from all seats in each venue.”

Espo estimates that providing this accommodation would cost $500 per game. But could it even be that high, given that the University is already paying someone to transcribe the captions that go on the Internet?

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