WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced it has reached a settlement with the Mountain Valley, Pa., Midget Football League to ensure that children with disabilities are offered an equal opportunity to play youth football.
The settlement resolves a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) filed by the mother of a seven-year-old boy with ocular albinism, a condition that results in having little or no pigment in the eyes and often causes extreme sensitivity to sunlight. According to the complaint, the league refused the mother’s requests to allow the boy to play football with a helmet that has a tinted visor, which would help to block sunlight. The Justice Department determined that the league violated the ADA by failing to make a reasonable modification of its policies, practices and procedures to permit the boy to use a tinted visor when playing football.
“People with disabilities cannot be denied the full and equal enjoyment of services, privileges and public accommodations, including youth football leagues,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This settlement is another example of the Justice Department’s commitment to ensure equal access for people with disabilities.”
The settlement agreement requires the league to develop and implement a disability rights policy, to train league officials on the requirements of the ADA and to grant requests for reasonable modifications, like the one at issue here. The league is also required to pay $1,000.00 to the complainant’s family.
The ADA requires public accommodations, like the league, to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to goods, services, privileges, accommodations, facilities, advantages and accommodations. Public accommodations must also make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices or procedures when the modifications are necessary to afford goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations to individuals with disabilities, unless making the modification would cause a fundamental alternation.