If you ever wonder about what it’s like to be blind or visually impaired I can attest that the story below is “legion”. Both blindness and low vision are poorly understood by the general public. I personally have been mocked by service employees in almost every kind of setting from airports to restaurants to hotels, bus stations, you name it. Our hats are off to Alice Camarillo. She is fighting for everyone on the Planet of the Blind.
The following article is forwarded to you by the DBTAC-Great Lakes ADA Center
New York Daily News (New York, NY)
February 9, 2008
Fast food employees mocked a blind woman who needed help reading menu
BY THOMAS ZAMBITO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Alice Camarillo, who is legally blind, says she was ridiculed when she
asked for help reading the menu at fast-food restaurants like Burger King,
McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Wendy’s. She sued. A federal judge in Albany
threw it out, saying the law doesn’t require restaurant workers to be
Yesterday, a Manhattan federal appeals court overruled the lower court,
and Camarillo can sue the restaurants under the Americans with Disabilities
Act. "I feel good about it," Camarillo, who lives in upstate Hudson, told
the Daily News. "I’m just sorry it took so long. Quite a few things that
they did were humiliating."
The appeals court ruling means the 2005 suit – believed to be the first
of its kind – could go before a jury this year. The issue is whether the
restaurants properly train their employees to serve the blind and
Camarillo said annoyed workers served other customers before reading
her just a partial list of their offerings. Camarillo can read large print
when she holds it close, but can’t make out most menus.
During a visit to Burger King, employees "laughed and stared" and
pointed her in the direction of the men’s room when she asked for a
bathroom, she claims.
At Taco Bell, a cashier told her to wait until the rest of the
customers had ordered.
"Put simply, Camarillo cannot experience full and equal enjoyment of
defendants’ services if she is unable to access the list of the
services available to her," the appeals court said.
Last year, Albany Federal Court Judge Gary Sharpe dismissed the suit,
saying Camarillo was never denied service at the restaurants. Sharpe said
ADA laws don’t regulate "rudeness or insensitivity" of workers.
The appeals judges’ disagreed.
"While restaurants are not necessarily required to have on hand large
print menus that Camarillo would be able to read, they are required to
ensure that their menu options are effectively communicated to individuals
who, like Camarillo, are legally blind," the judges wrote.
Camarillo’s lawyer, Michael O’Neill, believes this is the first time a
blind or disabled person has made such a challenge under the ADA.
"The way Alice was treated in some of these restaurants was just
horrible," O’Neill said. Lawyers for the restaurants declined to comment.
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