Disney continues their discriminatory practices towards autistic children and their families, according to the Florida Commission on Human Relations. The FCHR says that Disney’s new disability access program had stopped a family and their autistic son from fully enjoying the park, reports Deadline. “Complainant and Complainant’s son were deprived of full enjoyment of the facility,” says FCHR executive director Michelle Wilson.
In the correspondence, Wilson went on to note that, “On the basis of the report from the Commission’s Office of Employment Investigations and recommendation from the Commission’s Office of General Counsel, pursuant to the authority delegated to me as Executive Director of the Florida Commission on Human Relations, I have determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that an unlawful practice occurred.”
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ discrimination against children with autism and other disabilities was brought to light in 2014, when 16 attendees, along with their legal guardians and parents, filed Antideficiency Act (ADA) violations. Disney’s Disability Access Service, which was created in 2013, was brought up in the complaints, insisting that this service did not accommodate for those with various special needs. As a result, park attendees were treated poorly by staff and had to wait in lines for an extended period of time – causing a large amount of stress and frustration for the children with disabilities.
Disney Park guests with disabilities used to have immediate access to the fast pass, allowing for a shorter waiting time at any given attraction, but Disney did away with this in 2013. Disney once had a Guest Assistance Card that would allow guests to avoid lines if they were accompanying someone with a disability. But people took advantage of this and started scamming the system by simply hiring disabled people to walk with them around the parks, just to cut the lines. So, Disney made the decision to do away with that plan.
According to one of the complaints in late 2014, Disney’s attempt to fix this was “certain to create discrimination against Plaintiffs, and it was obvious that the community of persons with cognitive impairments would be harmed by the DAS.”
There have been dozens of claims that state Disney’s disability access program violates the Americans with Disabilities act, but Disney denied those allegations in 2014. Last month, U.S. District Judge Ann Conway ruled that Disney had not been in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the case was then taken to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
“Most of the moderate to severe cases of autism have difficulty comprehending the concept of time,” attorney Andy Dogali said. “They only have a present tense.”
Dogali also writes off Disney’s DAS as a program that only benefits people whose disabilities are not as severe as others.
“The DAS is a lousy system which accommodates only the highest-functioning autistic guests,” said Dogali. “For guests with moderate or worse autism or cognitive impairment, it creates a horrible experience.”
This Disney discrimination case is not going to go away anytime soon, as they have been dealing with countless accusations of discrimination, not just against the disabled, but discrimination based on religion, national origin, and race as well. Two families brought up lawsuits against Disneyland in 2013 for racial discrimination when a couple of the park’s mascots intentionally ignoring their children.
Disney has denied any claims that their parks and resorts have used a list, referred to as the “Magic List,” to give five immediate-entry, no-appointment ride passes to certain individuals. Those on the list apparently avoid many hassles others usually deal with.
[Photo by Mark Ashman/Disney via Getty Images]