FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Friday, March 3, 2017
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind and Two Blind Students File Suit Against Los Angeles Community College District

Los Angeles, California (March 3, 2017): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation's leading advocate for equal access to higher education for the blind; its California affiliate, the National Federation of the Blind of California; and two blind students, Roy Payan and Portia Mason, have filed suit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, against the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) (Case 2:17-cv-01697). The lawsuit alleges that the LACCD has violated the Americans with Disabilities act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973 by failing to provide accessible instructional materials and other accommodations required by these statutes and needed by these students. As a result, Mr. Payan and Ms. Mason have been unable to complete required coursework or have received grades that do not reflect their true aptitude, intelligence, and industry, but rather the artificial educational barriers that have been erected by LACCD.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "The National Federation of the Blind continues to expect that our nation's institutions of higher education meet their legal obligations to make their educational programs accessible to the blind. Many colleges and universities fail to meet accessibility requirements because of a lack of knowledge about accessible technology and best practices for creating accessible content, and the National Federation of the Blind is actively engaged in efforts to give educational institutions the information and resources they need in order to provide equal educational opportunities to their blind students. But the experiences of Mr. Payan and Ms. Mason also demonstrate that there are low expectations of blind students and other attitudinal barriers as well. Faculty and staff in the Los Angeles Community College system have demonstrated a deliberate lack of regard for the rights of Mr. Payan, Ms. Mason, and other blind students. The National Federation of the Blind will not tolerate this discriminatory behavior."

The plaintiffs are represented by Patricia Barbosa and Ayman Mourad of the Huntington Beach, CA firm The Barbosa Group, and by Daniel F. Goldstein, Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum, Joseph B. Espo and Jean M. Zachariasiewicz of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP.