Deaf Man Sues NY Nudists Under ADA: No Sign Language Interpreter

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 12, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A deaf man has sued for his right to have an interpreter at a nudist festival. New York resident and deaf nudist Tom Willard filed suit after the Empire Haven Nudist Park refused his request to have a sign language interpreter at one of their festivals.

Empire Haven Nudist Park offers several workshops during their festival. Willard wanted an interpreter present so he could understand what was going on. He even offered to pay for the interpreter himself if Empire Haven discounted his entry into the festival and registration fees, The Post-Standard reports.

Apparently, Willard's efforts were in vain.

First, he got an e-mail saying having interpreters was not something the festival provides, according to The Post-Standard.

Then, he seemed to have worked out an arrangement with one of the festival organizers. He would hire his own interpreter and would not have to pay an entrance fee. But, the day before the festival began Willard was notified that the festival organizers needed a 3-day notice to have the interpreter, according to Reuters.

Willard then decided to sue to enforce his rights.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that places of public accommodations need to provide sign language for deaf patrons.

Business and organizations that violate this law may be subject to a $55,000 fine. If they repeatedly violate the ADA, they may be slapped with an $110,000 fine, according to Reuters.

And, apparently, many businesses don't comply. The deaf nudist is also suing a local comedy club for their refusal to have an interpreter present, Reuters reports.

Does a deaf man have to sue to get businesses to comply? It seems that oftentimes, businesses might simply refuse requests like Willard's because it's costly to get interpreters. For at least one deaf nudist, however, suing for his rights is now something that's akin to a cause. Willard hopes to bring more awareness to the ADA rules from his lawsuit, Reuters reports.

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