The Justice Department reached a settlement on Feb. 20 with a West Hollywood travel firm that allegedly turned down a request by deaf passengers for sign language interpreters on a cruise to Mexico.
The settlement of a federal lawsuit against Atlantis Events Inc. requires the cruise and resort vacation company to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by ensuring deaf clients are ensured effective communication.
“The ADA guarantees people with disabilities equal access to public accommodations, including communications access,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division, in a statement. “People with disabilities who are deaf or hard of hearing must be given the opportunity to fully participate on cruises and at resorts, and enjoy the services and activities a vacation company offers.”
Atlantis, which buys and resells cabins on cruise ships and rooms at resorts, must pay a civil penalty of $10,000 plus $9,000 in damages to be split among three deaf persons who had filed ADA-related complaints.
The complainants alleged that Atlantis had failed to provide them with appropriate aids when they requested sign language interpreters during a Halloween-themed round-trip cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico.
In addition to not having a policy regarding access for those with disabilities, according to the settlement, the company had posted a discriminatory policy on its website that read, “American Sign Language Interpreter will not be provided.”
The Department of Justice said that Atlantis had cooperated with federal prosecutors throughout the investigation.
Under the agreement, Atlantis will ensure that interpreters, transcription services, written exchanges, assistive listening devices, captioning or other auxiliary aids and services are provided to individuals with hearing disabilities free of charge when necessary for effective communication.
The company also agreed to designate an ADA liaison on every cruise to respond to disability-related requests from passengers.
Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.