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June 15, 2004

Deaf advocates file suit against Hope Airport

From: Los Angeles Daily News, CA - Jun 15, 2004

Renovation didn't include paging system, TTY phones

By Alex Dobuzinskis Staff Writer

BURBANK -- A $30 million renovation at Bob Hope Airport should have included improvements to make the facility more accessible to the deaf, an advocacy group said Monday in filing suit against the facility.

The suit by the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness said the airport should have a monitor for the deaf and hearing-impaired so they can check for pages and messages, and also should have more Teletype phones for the deaf to use.

"We're looking into Burbank because it was renovated and automatically it should have included accessibility, and they didn't," said Patricia Hughes, the head of GLAD, which is based in Eagle Rock.

Kevin Knestrick, who works for Oakland-based Disability Rights Advocates, said GLAD had not received a response from the airport to its complaints.

But airport spokesman Victor Gill said a response had been sent and that officials are examining ways to make the facility more accessible.

"Even though this lawsuit ... is against the Bob Hope Airport, it's not because this airport somehow is out of sync with the other airports in the country. They're really talking about a nationwide situation," he said.

Two of the airport's 58 pay phones are equipped with TTY technology -- both in Terminal B -- and there also is a TTY phone to link callers to a shuttle service, Gill said.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, lists Van Nuys resident Lisa Aiello and GLAD as plaintiffs. It accuses the airport of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and California civil-rights statutes.

Disability Rights Advocates sued San Francisco International Airport in April 2002 over its accessibility for the deaf. The two sides are in settlement negotiations, and SFO spokeswoman Candace Bender said the discussion is "revolving around the visual paging system."

Knestrick said GLAD would also like to settle its lawsuit against Bob Hope Airport out of court.

Alex Dobuzinskis, (818) 546-3304

Copyright © 2004 Los Angeles Daily News