Hearing-impaired fan sues University of Kentucky over lack of captioning at football games

Federal Complaint says hearing impaired miss announcements

jhewlett@herald-leader.comMay 5, 2011 

A University of Kentucky football season ticket holder with a hearing impairment has gone to federal court to try to get UK to display captioning on the video boards and video monitors throughout Commonwealth Stadium.

Charles Mitchell of Lancaster says in a complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Lexington that he cannot hear announcements on the stadium's public address system and that captioning can be displayed on the video boards and monitors.

He says UK, by not providing captioning, is violating the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. He notes in the complaint that UK receives funding from the federal government.

The suit names UK and its president, Lee T. Todd Jr., as defendants.

"We have no comment at this time, as this is a matter that is being litigated," UK spokesman Jay Blanton said.

Mitchell, who says he regularly attends UK home football games, says in the complaint he sent an email to UK in early March requesting captioning be provided at Commonwealth Stadium for home football games, and UK has not responded to his request. He says UK previously denied at least one other such request from "individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing."

Mitchell asks in the complaint for the court to declare UK is violating his rights and to issue a permanent injunction ordering UK to stop discriminating and provide deaf or hard of hearing people with equal access to its facilities, programs, services and activities.

Mitchell wants captioning displayed for all announcements over the stadium's public address system, including all plays just after they occur, all penalties called, and safety and emergency information.

He also wants UK to develop written policies and procedures to ensure captioning is provided on its video boards and video monitors.

Mitchell wants compensatory damages and his attorneys' fees and court costs paid by UK.

Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.

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