Daily Freeman, New York.
Thursday, March 02, 2006.
CATSKILL - A legally blind Catskill woman is suing several fast-food restaurants, demanding they provide Braille or large-print menus for people with impaired vision.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Albany and is being heard by Judge Gary Sharpe. Today, Sharpe will entertain a motion by defendants to dismiss the case.
The plaintiff in the case, Catskill resident Alice Camarillo, is suing several fast-food chains that do business in the Hudson Valley, including McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Subway. Camarillo's lawyer, Michael O'Neill of New York City, said his client would prefer large-print menus over Braille because she does not read Braille very well.
O'Neill said the defendants' lawyers are asking that the suit be dismissed because the restaurants have no obligation to accommodate the visually impaired beyond having someone read the menu to them.
But "we disagree with that," O'Neill said.
O'Neill said the Americans With Disabilities Act states there must be an effective form of communication in such matters and that someone has to read a restaurant menu to Camarillo, it delays others customers and embarrasses her. He also said his client has been told to wait while other customers in line are served before her.
O'Neill added that Camarillo has a large family and needs to figure costs when she brings her children to eat at a fast-food restaurants. But being read to doesn't allow her to compare menu items and prices, he said.
The attorney said the problem can be solved easily and for very little money: For about $10 plus the cost of labor, he estimated, each restaurant could have an employee use a word-processing program to create and print a large-type version of the menu.
O'Neill said Camarillo's suit is based on the portion of the Americans With Disabilities Act that focuses on "auxiliary aids," which mandates that people with special needs be provided the assistance necessary to have access to public services.
"The barrier in this case is the fact that the menus they do provide are on the wall," 10 to 20 feet from customers at the counter, O'Neill said.
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