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Disney sued for not meeting needs of autistic children

Disneyworld, it’s the happiest place on earth- unless you’re a disabled child. According to a recent report, several families have now filed a lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company, claiming its theme parks have not done enough to “accommodate” the needs of autistic children.

According to the lawsuit, there are sixteen families who are suing the company’s theme parks because they claim they have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The families argue that although Disney World does accommodate children with certain physical disabilities, they do not offer any type of help for autistic children who, according to the report, may have a hard time waiting in lines.

The company, who recently updated their disability services, argues they remain committed to offering guests all the necessary services at their parks and have done all they can do to follow the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Disney policy for the disabled


Disney admits, however, that they have had to modify their special cards program. In the past, disabled guests could get a card which allowed them to visit special rides and attractions at scheduled times. Unfortunately, in 2013, this program was cancelled when Disney realized guests were hiring disabled kids and adults to go to the park with them so they could skip the longest lines.

Although Disney did modify their Guest Assistance Card program to control what they claim was widespread abuse, the new Disability Access Service (DAS) Card continues to allow Guests with disabilities at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort to receive a return time for attractions based on the current wait time. Guests Relations at the front of each park will continue to assist Guests and provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances.

Americans with Disabilities Act


What is the Americans with Disabilities Act? It is a law passed which is supposed to give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities which are similar to ones provided to individuals based on their race, sex, national origin, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.

What is Disney expected to do under the Americans with Disabilities Act?


Disney is expected to provide public accommodations which do not discriminate based on disability. This includes making reasonable changes to their policies, practices, and procedures in order to avoid discrimination. They are also expected to provide auxiliary aids and services to individuals with vision or hearing impairments or other individuals with disabilities so that they can have an equal opportunity to participate or benefit, unless an undue burden would result. Other physical barriers must be removed, if the removal can be easily accomplished and carried out without much difficulty or expense. If not, alternative methods of providing the services must be offered, if those methods are readily achievable.

What is most disturbing about this entire story is that Disney, by all accounts, has done a great job to help those with disabilities enjoy their parks. What is disgusting is that a few families would abuse the programs Disney had in place making it more difficult for those who are truly disabled.
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