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For Blind Gamer, Lawsuit Against Sony Is Clear

By Minara El-Rahman on November 13, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Examiner reports that Sony is facing a lawsuit from a blind gamer named Alexander Stern in California. Mr. Stern contends that even after repeated requests he made to Sony via email to revise their games to make them more accessible, the company did not revise their games. For blind gamers, this is a big deal.

The gamer sued under Title III of the ADA and under California civil rights law.

ADA Title III requires that all public accommodations and facilities from commercial and non-profit entities be accessible to disabled Americans.

While the law historically applies to physical accommodations, Stern alleges them broad enough to include the virtual world as well. While his complaint makes referrence to the brick and mortar Sony stores that sell Sony's games, his primary argument is that the gaves themselves are goods, services, privileges, advantages or accomodations of the stores, thus bringing them under Title III of the ADA.

Anticipating Sony's argument that the games do not fall under ADA Title III, Stern has asked the court for a declaratory statement that they do.

He also claims violations of California civil rights laws similarly guaranteeing access to public accomodations.

ADA Title III requires that businesses constituting public accomodations take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that that they do not discriminate against those with disability in terms of access to their facilities or in their communications with applicants, participants, and members of the public with disabilities.

It also requires that no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods and services.

The fact that Mr. Stern can not enjoy full and equal enjoyment of Sony's games is outlined in his complaint: "Sony has constructed the products in a way that is inaccessible to plaintiff; maintains the products in this inaccessible form; and has failed to take any action whatsoever to correct these barriers even after being repeatedly notified of the discrimination that such barriers cause."

Mr. Stern is also claiming financial losses since Sony holds an auction site where gamers can sell the items that they win in these games for actual cash.

Sony has not publicly responded to this lawsuit.

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