University of Maryland sued for not captioning announcements at sporting events

The suit alleges that events at Byrd Stadium and Comcast Center don't caption announcemenets for the hard of hearing. Photo: Bpaulh/Wikimedia Commons

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJLA) - An association that advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing has sued the University of Maryland for not captioning public address announcements during on-campus sporting events.

The Silver Spring-based National Association of the Deaf (NAD), along with a Baltimore law firm, filed suit against the school Tuesday on behalf of Sean and fellow Terrapin fan Joseph Innes.

The lawsuit claims that Maryland is violating Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and states that the school needs to write whatever is being said on the public address system on the scoreboards and jumbotrons at Byrd Stadium and at the Comcast Center.

When Maryland star receiver Stefon Diggs makes a great play, most fans hear the details on the public address system.

But hearing-impaired fans like Sean Market don’t.

“Often, I'm left out -- I don't know what's being announced," he said.

NAD executives say that teams nationwide need to make sure they cater to the needs of the hearing impaired.

"All professional and collegiate sports teams need to recognize that many fans, not just those who are deaf or hard of hearing, need captioning in sports stadiums and arenas to understand what is being announced," NAD CEO Howard Rosenblum said in a statement.

In a statement, University of Maryland officials say that they do not discriminate against people with disabilities.

"We offer accommodations that we believe are in compliance with the law," the statement read.

The university also said it offers closed captioning on a special website fans can go to on smart phones and tablets that are loaned out. But Sean says that isn’t a solution.

"I use my hands to use American sign language," he said. "I might go get something to eat, I'm having fun, and I don't want to be having to hold a handheld device the whole time."

He also explained that it's difficult to use smart phones and tablets when it's cold out or raining.

Attorney Carolina Jackson says the Redskins and Ravens already offer Jumbotron captioning, and that it's time for Maryland to join them.