Disabled Gamer Sues Sony

A disabled, visually-impaired gamer has filed suit against Sony Corporation of America, Sony Computer Entertainment America and Sony Online Entertainment claiming that the defendants are denying people with disabilities equal access to their goods and services.

The suit was filed by plaintiff Alexander Stern on October 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Stern seeks to “put an end to systemic civil rights violations” allegedly perpetrated by the defendants.

Stern claims to have sent both physical and electronic mail to officials at Sony requesting “minor modifications” that would remove the barrier to gaming for disabled people. In the complaint, Stern says that a Sony representative told him that “Sony would not offer any modifications whatsoever for persons with disabilities.”

Among other actions, Stern is seeking an injunction to prohibit Sony from violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, a declaration that Sony owns, operates and maintains equipment that discriminates against the disabled, unspecified damages and to have his lawyer’s fees and expenses paid for.

The plaintiff added in the complaint that games such as World of Warcraft do support access by disabled and/or visually impaired people by “providing visual cues through several simple third-party modifications.” Stern notes that other accessibility features are available and have been implemented by “companies whose resources pale in comparison with Sony’s.”

The suit also names “Does 1 through 10,” as the plaintiff “does not presently know the true names and capacities of the defendants.”

|Via GameSpot|

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143 comments

  1. 0
    Torven says:

    Both Random House and Harper Collins allow direct purchase from their website.  Then there are the physical entities that you send off to in order to subscribe to various magazines and newspapers.  Their offices would also be considered public accomodations, as the public is invited to purchase services from them, even if it is not in person (I believe that was mentioned in the health care case you linked).

    edit:  Heading down the hill, most likely won’t be able to respond again until tonight.

  2. 0
    JDKJ says:

    The publisher doesn’t create a public accommodation merely by publishing books. The have to also, like the bookstore, create some sort of location to which the the public is invited to come and purchase their books. If there’s no public accommodation, then the requirements of the ADA wouldn’t apply and the publisher, therefore, can’t be forced to make any accommodations for the disabled.

    And I forgot to give you props for actually going out and finding some relevant law on the issue. Unlike most, who just run their mouths with no idea of the relevant law. Kudos. 

  3. 0
    JDKJ says:

    If we assume those sites are public accommodations to which the ADA would apply, then the question would be, I imagine, whether it is reasonable to require that they also make Braille versions available to the blind. Intuitively, that strikes me as a bit too much to ask.  

  4. 0
    Torven says:

    There is a difference between a community mod and official content; community modders do not need to test as stringently and do not need to be as concerned about the effects on other aspects of the game.  Unlike community mods, you can’t release an update to live servers in an alpha or beta state.

    And yes, it is feasible and has been done for WoW; he mentions that in the papers he filed.  Considering that Everquest 2 also allows client-side mods, he is basically blaming Sony because he and other players have not bothered to create mods similar to those made by WoW players…that or what he is asking for is not actually within the scope of such mods.

  5. 0
    JDKJ says:

    I can’t intelligently say. I don’t know much about programming websites or games or about printing books in Braille. But I thought you at one time said it is technologically feasible and has been done for other games by third-parties. So, too, says Stern. If he can’t prove the point that it’s a relatively easy fix and one which lies within Sony’s ability to provide or Sony can prove he’s wrong on the point, then I guess he’s S.O.L.

  6. 0
    Torven says:

    What is the difference between the that and requiring that a game company add features to accomodate the blind?  I mean aside from the fact that installing a braille embosser is not going to require anywhere near the same amount of time and labor? (The QA alone on that kind of project is going to be a major pain in the ass)

  7. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Because, in your example of a bookstore (which is a public accommodation), the owner-operator has no control of the form of the books he sells. He buys them wholesale and sells them retail. In whatever form he gets them, he turns around and offers them for sale in the same form. It would be unreasonable to require a owner-operator of a bookstore to carry a book in Braille when they aren’t responsible in any way for the printing of that book. That’s not the facts of the matter in Sony’s case. They have 100% control over the site and game content at issue. Making it perhaps entirely reasonable that they be required to modify that site and game content. 

    And, yes, the SouthWest case went the other way. But does that preclude us from surmising what would have been the required accommodation if it had been found that the site was subject to ADA requirements? It is, I believe, a legitimate rhetorical question to pose without it being construed as an attempt to re-write the law. It certainly begins to explore the issue of what would have been an appropriate remedy if the plaintiff had a case to be remedied. I guess you can say that he didn’t and close the matter on that basis but doing so certainly doesn’t much lend itself to a fuller exploration of the issue.   

  8. 0
    Torven says:

    Are DVDs required to have subtitles?  Are bookstores required to carry books in braille?  What makes video games so different that this law allows regulation of the content as well as the access to the product?  In the Southwest case, the website was not the service; it was the method of accessing the service.  In this case, the game is the service; it is closer to the tickets sold by Southwest than the website they are bought on.

    Also the Southwest case did not go the other way; that argument is tantamount to saying, "Well, if the law were not the law, things would be different."

  9. 0
    JDKJ says:

    If he, because of his disability, can’t actually play the game, then what kinda "access to the product" is that? That’s like telling the blind guy in the SouthWest case that as long as he can manage to log on and visit SouthWest’s on-line ticket site, he’s got access to their products. But he doesn’t really have meaningful access to the product under those circumstance. Access to the product would mean he can actually purchase a ticket if he wanted to do so. But he can’t do so because the SouthWest site had no audible-type cues. The objective of the ADA can’t be to simply allow him the same access as a sighted person has to visit the on-line site. The ADA’s objective is to put him in the same position as a sighted person to be able to actually buy a ticket at the on-line site. 

    And if the decision in SouthWest had gone the other way (i.e., their on-line site is a public accommodation), you can bet that SouthWest would have been required to add sufficient audible cues or similar visually-impaired accommodation to the site so that the blind guy can actually buy a ticket there if he wants to do so. Just like I’m willing to bet that if the decision in this guy’s case finds that Sony’s on-line site is a public accommodation, Sony will be required to add audible cues sufficient to allow the guy to actually play the game. 

    I wouldn’t see much of a First Amendment issue raised in requiring the addition of audible cues. No more than implicated by requiring a brick-and-mortar to post a sign stating which particular restroom among many is the one that’s wheelchair accessible. I’d imagine the requirement would be held to the rational basis test and it doesn’t strike me as being completely irrational.   

  10. 0
    JDKJ says:

    You’ll notice the hesitation of the Court in arriving at that conclusion, however. Indeed, the Court goes as far as to admit that if it was sitting in the Second Circuit (which had already ruled that a health plan, which isn’t found on Title III’s list of enumerated facilities and has no real physical, concrete ability to accommodate, is a public accommodation), then it may have been forced by precedent to come to the opposite conclusion. It also quotes the very well respected federal judge Posner’s opinion that to find a Congressional intent to protect the disabled in a brick-and-mortar facility but no Congressional intent to protect them in a virtual facility is pants-on-head retarded.

    Nevertheless, you are correct when you say the Eleventh Circuit precedent holds that a virtual facility is not a public accommodation. But that doesn’t mean that another Circuit is bound by that precedent and, clearly, the Second Circuit has a precedent which suggests the exact opposite finding is more in order. Now, if Stern was bringing his lawsuit in the Eleventh, I’d tend to conclude that he’s screwed. But he brings his lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit, where that Court isn’t necessarily bound by Eleventh Circuit precedent. The Ninth Circuit may well ignore the Eleventh Circuit and find the reasoning of the Second Circuit more persuasive. I do.

  11. 0
    Torven says:

    Also, according to federal caselaw, the only physical locations can be considered public accomodations (Access Now v Southwest Airlines):

    In interpreting the plain and unambiguous language of the ADA, and its applicable federal regulations, the Eleventh Circuit has recognized Congress’ clear intent that Title III of the ADA governs solely access to physical, concrete places of public accommodation.

     

  12. 0
    Torven says:

    But that is not what the ADA is for.  The ADA ensures that he has equal access to the product, in this case the game.  It does not ensure that the content of that product caters to his disability.  Rather than resembling putting braille in the elevator of a theatre, this is more like requiring open captions during the show.

    Also, would the requirement to include new visual elements be in conflict with Sony’s right to free expression?

  13. 0
    JDKJ says:

    By the same token, going to see a movie isn’t a need, either. You don’t need to see a movie. But, nevertheless, movie theatres have been required to make themselves wheelchair accessible despite the possibility that not a single wheelchair patron will ever show up to watch a movie. But that possibility hasn’t ever, I don’t think, given theatres a good reason not to make themselves wheelchair accessible. Because, I suspect, the response to that argument is, "Too bad. We’d rather have you build a wheelchair ramp that no one will ever use than to not have you build a wheelchair ramp and then have some guy in a wheelchair show up and not be able to get inside your theatre." 

    As a practical matter, it is easy to discriminate against minorities, be they racial minorities or disabled minorities or whatever sort of minority, because of the fact that they are minorities. If the calculus which determines when it is or isn’t permissible to discriminate is based on nothing more than counting the number of people being discriminated against and concluding that in cases where that number is small, discrimination should be allowed, then minorities are almost certain to always lose. It’s the fact that they are relatively small in number that makes them minorities and subject to a greater possibility of discrimination in the first place.

  14. 0
    GavinBrindstaar says:

     Video games are not a need, like restrooms. You don’t need to play video games. If a substantial minority requires the modification, then it will be cost effective to modify the game. If it’s just one guy who thinks this, then they should not modify it.

  15. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Because, according to him, audible cues would compensate for his inability to see visual content. If he doesn’t have those audible cues, then he’s not playing the game on a footing equal to those who have sight and can rely on the visual content. So, while I guess you can say that the audible cues make the game easier for him to do well at, they would also make the game equally easy to do well at for him as it is for a person with sight and who doesn’t need the audible cues. And it is the disadvantages which the disabled experience in comparison to the non-disabled that the ADA was intended to remedy.   

  16. 0
    Torven says:

    How does it give him a greater ability to play the game?  The changes he is asking for can’t be accessed until he is already playing the game; they have no bearing on his access to the product.  What they do is make the game easier for him to do well at, but that isn’t a requirement under the law.

  17. 0
    Futurist says:

    The question is, are the changes that he is demanding going to offer a greater advantage to a player who isn’t legally blind?  Will these changes make the game unbalanced for a majority of the audience? Example: light up all enemies hiding in the grass.

  18. 0
    Futurist says:

    How much money will these "few tweaks" cost the developer?  Will these tweaks give advantages to those who are not handicapped (i.e. light up all enemies in the grass)?  Can the tweaks threaten to upset the balance for other players?  Games are an interactive medium that have different considerations than static content.

    Could Sony have demonstrated a bit more tact in their response? ABSOLUTELY.  But this guy stated his complaints to the company and they dismissed them, so now he sues?  Err….

    Again, as I posted above, will meet way: Blind video game star prepared for Mortal Kombat competition in Japan

  19. 0
    JDKJ says:

    I’m not so sure I’m mixing two different things as we’re just looking at the same things from different angles. Taking the whole auction thing outta the picture, what you see as his asking for changes to allow him to better perform at playing the game, I see as his asking for changes to allow him greater ability to play the game (which may or may not lead to better performance but I’d assume it would tend to increase his performance). I think were looking at the same line, just different points along that line.

  20. 0
    Torven says:

    You are mixing the two different complaints he had.  As I said, so far as his complaint with the game goes, he is asking for changes to allow him to perform better, not to allow him to access the game, itself.  As far as the website goes, it is not heavily image dependent, so it should already be accessable through a screen reader.

  21. 0
    JDKJ says:

    You can make the same argument that a non-ADA compliant public restroom stall is designed for people who aren’t in wheelchairs and that in many cases it is not, given the amount of patrons in a wheelchair who use the restroom stall, cost-effective to require ADA compliance. However, if you’re that one guy trying to force his wheelchair into the stall before he craps his pants, you may take the position that cost-effectiveness ain’t the only thing worth considering. And if you’re a blind gamer trying to get into a game but can’t because you’re blind and the decision was made to exclude audible cues as not being cost-effective, you may take the exact same position on cost-effectiveness.

    Of course, you can always say that the greater public good outweights the peculiar needs of a minority and, in pure ecomonic terms, it does. But you can also say that the guy sitting in his wheelchair on a pile of his own shit don’t give a rat’s ass about no greater public good and, in pure sitting-in-shit terms, he doesn’t.

  22. 0
    JDKJ says:

    The only way to upwardly adjust his ability to perform would be to somehow reduce the extent of his disabilities (e.g., if he has 60% sight, give him 75% sight). Is that what he’s asking? I don’t think so. I think he’s asking that the content of the gamesite be changed to accommodate the fact that he only has 60% sight (or whatever his disability actually is). Which, to me, is not much different than the guy in the wheelchair asking that the business widen their entrance by 12 inches so his wheelchair can pass through it and he can thereby participate in the business going on inside. 

  23. 0
    Torven says:

    Yes, he is.  So far as the game is concerned, he wants an adjustment to his ability to perform, not his ability to participate.  As far as the auction site is concerned, there doesn’t appear to be anything critical that a screen reader couldn’t handle.

  24. 0
    GavinBrindstaar says:

    You know, I think this has gotten a bit off topic. I just feel that the operative word here is VIDEO game. Video games are designed for people who can see. It wouldn’t be cost effective to place such a cue in the game.

  25. 0
    JDKJ says:

    The flaw that I see in your theory is that I don’t wanna be among the people who are infected with TB and have to make public outcry and force some company outta business or the creation of some private regulatory body. I’m not at all interested in getting TB. If I have to get TB to force some restaurant outta business or the creation of some private regulatory body, then to Hell with that plan. I need some other kinda plan that’s designed to head that TB off at the pass and long before it comes anywhere near my ass. 

  26. 0
    GavinBrindstaar says:

    The public outcry from people getting TB would lead to massive public backlash against said company, driving it out of business, or forcing the creation of some sort of industry regulatory body. Either way, the government doesn’t get involved. We, the consumers, either boycott the company, or force it to change. Democratic governments and businesses are very similar. They both rely on keeping the People happy.

  27. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Whether the government should or shouldn’t be telling people how to run their business, the inescapable reality is that it can and does. About everything from the number of people you can seat in your establishment at any given time to what you can serve and to whom you can serve it. In fact and as a perhaps interesting aside, there are few businesses which are subject to more government regulation than the food service industry. Which I personally think is a good thing. I’d rather not have rodent droppings hidden inside my ham sandwich, served to me by someone who tested positive for tuberculosis, thank you very much. 

  28. 0
    JDKJ says:

    I agree – and have already stated above – that an unreasonable accommodation shouldn’t be required under the ADA. In pure economic terms, there certainly comes a point at which whatever hardship the disabled may suffer and is alleviated by requiring that they be accommodated results in more hardship being placed on the accommodator than the alleviation is worth. Where does this point exist in any given case? I can’t tell. But there’s always a federal judge who can. And that’s precisely towards whom Mr. Stern looks for some clarification.  

  29. 0
    GavinBrindstaar says:

    The government shouldn’t be able to tell me how to run my business and who to serve. If I’m a racist, then black people won’t patronize my establishment and go elsewhere. I will lose money, and possibly go out of business. But, I did so because the market decided that they did not want to eat my racist sandwiches, not because the government decreed that I should sell my sandwiches to everyone. This is a free market economy we live in, and the government has no say in who I sell to.

  30. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Putting aside the first and more practical response which comes to mind, i.e., to have this feature be capable of being switched on or off at the user’s choice, I’ll go with the more philosophical response:

    I’ll bet that there were thousands of cafeteria owners in the Deep South who argued that once the Civil Rights Act took effect and their traditional white customers would be forced to rub shoulders with a whole new class of neverbeforeseen black customers, their business would suffer as white customers refused to continue their patronage rather than be forced to rub shoulders. To this argument, I would respond: too fucking bad.

  31. 0
    nightwng2000 says:

    I would have to dispute under "within reason".  A bathroom is a set facility.  It serves the business much better to provide a design within the already existing facility as opposed to building a seperate facility for those who would need a different form of access, even in part, to other users.

    However, another group of analogies apply to situations I’ve been faced with.

    Being nearsighted, even at my best, I’m unable to see the overhead menu boards in fast food restaurants.  Assuming that I’m unable to access a PC with internet to access menu choices with current specials, should I be able to sue the restaurant/franchise/fast food industry because they don’t provide either handheld menus with large print or a computerized menu on the counter (as has been tested in some locations I believe)?  Yeah, I can, and have, asked the person behind the counter to tell me what they have, or what’s on special.  And I explain that I’m nearsighted.  I even bought a hunting monocular (hey, it looked cool!) about 20 years ago, and still have it, just so I could carry it with me for such occassions.  The first time I used it at Burger King, I drew a few snickers.  I still went through with my order, but I haven’t used it in that way but maybe 2 or 3 times more since.

    And how about retailers who place merchandise on the walls behind counters or in locked glass cases?  Should I be able to sue any number of levels of retail businesses because I can’t see well at that distance, even writing a foot or two away behind a glass window?  I’ve asked employees of the business to tell me what games they have in the glass container or movies behind the counter (some drug stores like CVS used to put the newest movies on the wall behind the counter, but they’ve changed their design recently).  And going to a pawn shop to buy some old cheap DVDs, either I’d get lucky and have a good employee whould bring out the box of DVDs from the glass counter or read the titles to me. 

    Still, just how far is "within reason"?  And WHO’S "reason"?

    Nightwng2000

    NW2K Software

    http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000

    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  32. 0
    JDKJ says:

    And if Duck Hunt had a feature which emitted a "quack" when a duck entered the screen, continued quacking and increased the frequency/pitch of the quack as the duck flew further across the screen, and stopped quacking when the duck exited the screen, do you think this feature would increase the possibility of you occasionally shooting a duck? 

  33. 0
    JDKJ says:

    I’d imagine that there are a number of restaurants who have been forced by the requirements of the ADA to put in wheelchairs ramps, dedicate special parking spots among their already limited parking spots to handicap parking, widen their restroom stalls and install special handrails, etc., etc., etc., and nowhere near recoup those expenses from the 12 wheelchair patrons a year who show up to dine. Is that a good reason to exempt them from the requirements of the ADA?

  34. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    I agree, this is practically the same as me buying a PC game only to find I can’t run it because my PC isn’t up to spec. Then suing them.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  35. 0
    NicoleWagner1981 says:

    Well, this whole situation is a double edged sword in a way. One one side, it has merit that people with disabilities should have the same rights to game as others. However on the otherside it does sound a little unreasonable to expect game companies to for-see that people with severe disabilities (Be it visual, mental, or physical) would play video games. It is a market assumed for those who have full sight, hearing, and mental capabilities.

    In a way, it is like a deaf person walking into a record store as one person stated earlier. A CD, MP3, Record, or any form of audio is created and sold for those who can hear. Video games, as I stated before, are marketed for those who can hear, see, and be able to use a controler. It’s an item not marketed to those with visual impairments. Yes, some slight modifications could be made for people like this. But there are some problems on Sony’s end. 1. how many visually impaired people would by the game with such modifications if any, and 2. If we create a modification, will it be cost effective? Will we lose money rather than gain money?

    I mean, a video game system is not something one needs to live and function. It is a luxury, and sadly, some luxuries in life are not made for all.

  36. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Does he have equal access to the ability to play the game and, if he doesn’t, is that inability something which can be reasonably rectified by an accommodation of some sort? That’s the question which needs to be answered.  

  37. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Being sold a product at the same price as it is sold to others is not the equal access contemplated by the ADA. If it was, then a restaurant owner-operator wouldn’t be required to put in a wheelchair ramp as long they were selling their food to the physically disabled and wheelchair-bound at the same price as they were selling it to everyone else. The ADA requires that the ramp be put in so that the physically disabled and wheelchair-bound have as equal an opportunity as everyone else to avail themselves of the food that’s being offered for sale by the restaurant and if it takes the owner-operator of the restaurant putting in a ramp for them to do so, then that’s what the ADA requires. Not some meaningless bullshit requirement of equal pricing. What good does it do me to know that once I get inside, I can buy a meal at the same price everyone else buys it, if the entrance doorway’s too narrow for me to get my wheelchair-bound ass inside?

  38. 0
    Torven says:

    He has equal access to the game; his complaint is about the content of the game.  It’s like complaining that a movie theatre did not include subtitles for the hearing impaired.  As for his complaint about the website, it appeared to rely on text rather than images, so unless you can’t navigate it with tab and enter, I can’t imagine that it is any less accessible than any other website (out of curiosity, does anyone know how ebay complies with the ADA).

  39. 0
    PHOENIXZERO says:

    Yeah, I saw this story on Gamespot, rolled my eyes and said "good luck buddy"… This is only a hair above that douche suing Sony for violating his "first amendment rights". >_>

  40. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Yes, it’s "their house", and they can make whatever choices they wish. 

    That’s simply not the case. Just as the Civil Rights Act forbids those who own and operate public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, department stores, taxicabs, etc.) from discriminating on the basis of race, so too does the Americans with Disabilities Act forbid those who own and operate public accommodations from discriminating on the basis of a disability. Just because it’s your International House of Pancakes doesn’t mean that you’re free to refuse to serve your pancakes to either Asians or the deaf. Nor does it mean that you’re free to refuse to make your restrooms accessible to the wheelchair-bound. Those aren’t choices you get to make.

  41. 0
    CyberSkull says:

    I don’t see why Sony can’t make a few tweaks. Sony’s reply seems to stem from the same arrogance that got us a rootkit and get a 2nd job for the PS3.

    With a reply like that the only recourse would be a lawsuit.

  42. 0
    Father Time says:

    There is no victim here, he cannot use the product that he was not forced to obtain. I’d sympathize if he thought he could us it and wanted a refund but he’s trying to force Sony’s hand.

    —————————————————- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  43. 0
    Father Time says:

    "There is always something abhorrent to that principle in allowing some access to what you call a luxury item while not allowing all others equal access to that same luxury item."

    They are allowing equal acsess, you can have any disability and they will still sell it to you at the same price. The matter here is whether or not you are physically able to use the product.

    —————————————————-

    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  44. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    "How will this suit affect Sony’s PR? "

    Probably nowhere near as badly as how they handled Star Wars Galaxies. That was important to people, this isn’t.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  45. 0
    nightwng2000 says:

    Yes, it’s "their house", and they can make whatever choices they wish.  How will this suit affect Sony’s PR?  Whether win or lose in court, while many will say "so what", others may choose not to do business with them.  A one person protest you might say.  Some folks yell "boycott!", others yell "protest!" and those who don’t agree will yell back "You’re by yourself!" and if just that one person "boycotts" or "protests", that pretty much the end of it.  After all, who they boycott or protest doesn’t HAVE to respond.  On the other hand, a lawsuit, there HAS to be a response.  No matter what the response is, it’s affected by and will affect their PR.  There will still be the outcry over the suit and plaintiff.  But they’ll get more attention than just chattering for a boycott or protest on blog sites and such.  A lawsuit, for good or ill, gets more attention.

    "It ceases to amaze me how people think because they have a disability that they should be afforded special priveleges and given preferential treatment."

    That’s a bit of a goofy thing to say as what he is requesting is equal access to what others already have access to within the game.  It can’t be preferential treatment or special priviledges because others are apparently doing it.  In comparison to your skin disorder regarding AC/heating, while you may follow the "it’s their house" in regards to the owners of the building, if other users of the building are allowed to manipulate the AC/heating for their own purposes, but you are denied that opportunity if you so choose, then you are not asking for special priviledge or preferintial treatment.  You’re asking to have the same reasonable option as everyone else.

    Would you feel the same way in a building or apartment, rented,  that you moved into that you discovered had the option to change the AC/heating and others were allowed to change it to their own satisfaction but you could not because the change you required was outside the bounds of the rules set by the owner of the building or apartment?

    For some, they’d simply move.  For others, they’d sue on the grounds that others were allowed to make changes to suit their needs but you were denied that same option.

    Again, "within reason" applies heavily here and really needs defining.

    Nightwng2000

    NW2K Software

    http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000

    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  46. 0
    JDKJ says:

     [T]here’s already precedence that online world’s are NOT public places.

    Are you sure that those precedents apply to "public accomodations" as that term is used by the ADA? Or are you thinking "public forums" as that term is used in First Amendment jurisprudence?

    And merely having a "medical condition" such as a "skin disorder" isn’t what the ADA comtemplates when it speaks of a "disability." Your comparison is entirely misplaced. 

  47. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Unfortunatly, Ameria also has a strong ‘blame the victim’ meme too.  We have a long history of resenting people who do not quietly ‘know their place’ and get rather venmous to lessor people who dare to not be happy with their lot.  And as this conversation has shown, some of the nastiest comments come from people who are in a similiar but not as severe situation.   After all, if THEY do not need XYZ, then other people should not either, because being like them, they simply know.  (you esp see this in things like mental dissease or situational poverty… ‘I got over this, so all cases must be like mine and thus anyone else who did not, well, it must be their fault’.)

  48. 0
    Neeneko says:

    If I understand the technical requests being made, they do not exactly effect the ‘whole player base’ any more then adding brail to an elevator somehow makes it less of an elevator to everyone else.

    Realisticly, there is little profit to be made in supporting the needs of a small group of customers.  If there were not laws like the ADA, there would be little to no accomidation anywhere for the handicapped.  And while these little changes have minimal impact on most people, they make HUGE quality of life differnces to the people the do effect.

  49. 0
    MrBounce says:

    Then his suit makes even less sense as there’s already precedence that online world’s are NOT public places. Therefore SOE can do whatever they please within the world. They could up and cut the person account giving a frivolous reason and they can do so within the law because the user who signs up for the game specifically signs an agreement stating that they allow SOE to do so.

    It ceases to amaze me how people think because they have a disability that they should be afforded special priveleges and given preferential treatment. I’ve got a skin disorder that causes me extreme discomfort / pain when I spend an extended amount of time in an environment with AC / heating, but I don’t go off and sue every building I’ve ever been to because of it. I just deal with it / try to minimize the effects as best I can because unfortunately I have a medical condition.

    Again, this is just another case of "only in America".

     

  50. 0
    JDKJ says:

    If the plaintiff’s functionally blind, what difference would monitor size make to them? A Times Square-sized Jumbotron wouldn’t help them see any better, would it? No, it wouldn’t. No more than wearing a Harvard College sweat-shirt will help the mentally retarded in forming a coherent and cogent comment for posting to GamePolitics.

  51. 0
    Overcast says:

    No, this is far different – no one is saying "he cannot play the game"… He’s expecting changes to be made that will impact the whole player base because of his specific issue.

    What about recreational plane flying? should he be allowed to do that also? Or maybe ‘recreational’ driving?

    Sometimes – there are just limitations in life. I’m ‘disabled’ too, but I don’t go around crying like a baby because I think various sports should be changed because I’m not able to participate.

    So.. ok, maybe I should sue the local softball league because I think I have to get to the bases in softball too quickly and it’s ‘infringing’ on my rights. So we’ll make the game stupid for everyone because I want to piss and moan like a spoiled little brat.

    I can’t move as quickly as others due to some issues I have – doesn’t mean I should screw things up for everyone else. The rights of people to play a game like it was intended is just as important.

    Or maybe I should enter a marathon and sue to put a .5 MPH ‘speed limit’ on jogging so I can ‘compete’. WTF?

  52. 0
    Torven says:

    I am not really certain.  They claim several companies as "clients", so I don’t know exactly what the legal relationship there is.  It also appears to be an action site remniscent of ebay, where items are on the block for hours or days, and the bidders have to refresh the page in order to receive updates, so I don’t know if alert sounds would really be all that helpful.

  53. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Because equality is a principle upon which, at least in theory, America is founded. And, resulting, there is always something abhorrent to that principle in allowing some access to what you call a luxury item while not allowing all others equal access to that same luxury item. It’s the same principle upon which it was determined that to allow whites to eat at a cafeteria counter while forbidding other classes to do so was simply un-American. As are all other forms of unreasonable discrimination in granting access to public accommodations un-American.

  54. 0
    Father Time says:

    " Sony owns, operates and maintains equipment that discriminates against the disabled,"

    Who gives a fuck? You do not need this equipment, unless you actually work at Sony or a game developer you will never be required to operate this equipment for your job. Give me one good reason why luxury items should be required to be handicapped accesible.

    And before someone says anything let me make something clear. I’m not against cripples being able to play games, I’m against them suing companies that don’t make their systems handicapped friendly and pretending some right of theirs has been violated.

    —————————————————-

    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  55. 0
    Torven says:

    From what I can see, the RMT auction site isn’t actually run by Sony, it is run by a company called Live Gamer, inc.  It may be that Sony wasn’t going to make any changes to accomodate disable users because they don’t actually have the ability (or responsibility) to make those changes.

  56. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Yeah, maybe they should make like Nintendo and develop games that play themselves.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  57. 0
    sharpshooterbabe says:

    I think Sony should make it handicapped capable for people that are handicapped or disabled. They are considered gamers too! :)

     

     

    "It’s better to be hated for who you are, then be loved for who you are not." – Montgomery Gentry

  58. 0
    JDKJ says:

    As to the discussion of wheelchair ramps, parking spaces, etc. is not the same thing here, at all, as it in no way exempts able-bodied people from using the facilities, just (perhaps) inconvenienced.

    Putting aside the fact that your point as originally made never said anything about non-disabled players being "exempted" from the game (what you originally said and to which I originally responded was of an accommodation that "offers an extreme advantage to non-blind players in a manner that throws off the balance of the game, possibly damaging the game reputation and, thus, sales"), if the plaintiff is accommodated in the manner in which he seeks to be accommodated (i.e., audible cues are added to the game) how would that exempt the non-disable from also playing the game? Do the audible cues found in many elevators which literally tell riders which floor the elevator car has arrived at exempt the non-visually impaired from also riding on that elevator car? 

    Let me ask you something, what if Sony agreed to the requests and then, as a result of additional development costs, charges the plaintiff 5x the retail price for the game to cover said changes.  Is that ok? 

    No, that would be just a slightly different form of discrimination than the sort which initially prompted the complaint.

    Why should I have to pay for features I don’t need in a game just because an extreme minority of the player base does?

    You pay for that wheelchair ramp you never use in front of every brick-and mortar business you patronize, don’t you? You think those businesses absorb the cost of that ramp installation? Or pass it down to their wheelchair customers only? They don’t. They pass that cost down to all their customers.

  59. 0
    Futurist says:

    As long as the accommodation is reasonable, the ADA doesn’t concern itself with the impact to the non-disabled. That the wheelchair ramp uglies up the front of your building is just too bad as far as the ADA is concerned. That you have to give up limited parking spaces in your lot to provide an infrequently used handicap spot doesn’t matter under the ADA. That your non-disabled customers are made uncomfortable by the presence of disabled customers and your business is therefore negatively impacted is of absolutely no import to the analysis required by the ADA.

    So the ADA does not take into account the impact of such demands on any patrons other than the disabled.  Got it.  Way to view it from one side only. As to the discussion of wheelchair ramps, parking spaces, etc. is not the same thing here, at all, as it in no way exempts able-bodied people from using the facilities, just (perhaps) inconvenienced.

    If all of this is such an issue, why don’t we have treadmills at gyms that are sized to hold a wheelchair, all cars with handicapped amenities in them, etc.?

    And perhaps you are right and I am flattering my personal sense of right and wrong.  To that end, the plaintiff is filing a lawsuit that is tantamount to pitching a fit because big bad Sony did not cater to his request.

    Let me ask you something, what if Sony agreed to the requests and then, as a result of additional development costs, charges the plaintiff 5x the retail price for the game to cover said changes.  Is that ok?  Why should I have to pay for features I don’t need in a game just because an extreme minority of the player base does?

  60. 0
    JDKJ says:

    If he is 100% incapable of playing the game then he should get whatever accommodation Sony deems necessary to include in their product.  He has access, has every opportunity to sit in front of the screen, to use the control mechanisms, and try to play the game that Sony intended.  Just because he is blind and has a beef with mechanisms he feels would be of benefit to him, does not entitle him to those mechanisms.

    If you’re basing your argument on some moral or normative or religious or economic principle,  perhaps you should instead be casting it within the the framework of the principles set forth by the ADA (the law upon which the plaintiff’s bases his lawsuit) because what you suggest is nowhere near how things work as provided for in the ADA. He doesn’t need to be 100% incapable of playing the game and he doesn’t get what Sony thinks he should get. He only needs to be disabled as defined by the ADA and he gets whatever accommodations the ADA says he should get. That’s what the ADA says. 

    Are you saying that because one person with a disability feels they need X then a company should be forced to provide that, even no one else is asking for it?  Or, at best, an extreme minority?

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. But that is precisely what the ADA says. There’s no requirement under the ADA that a minimum "X" number of disabled persons must see a need for accommodation before the accommodation is required. One disabled person bringing a successful lawsuit under the ADA is enough to force the desired accommodation. And what the ADA says is all-important as the determinative basis for the outcome in this case. Not what I say or what you say.

    Oh, and again, if the audible concessions that are made available in said game to him offers an extreme advantage to non-blind players in a manner that throws off the balance of the game, possibly damaging the game reputation and, thus, sales, should his accommodation be met?

    Yes, if indeed the ADA says he’s entitled to such an accommodation, then the accomodation must -not "should" – be met. As long as the accommodation is reasonable, the ADA doesn’t concern itself with the impact to the non-disabled. That the wheelchair ramp uglies up the front of your building is just too bad as far as the ADA is concerned. That you have to give up limited parking spaces in your lot to provide an infrequently used handicap spot doesn’t matter under the ADA. That your non-disabled customers are made uncomfortable by the presence of disabled customers and your business is therefore negatively impacted is of absolutely no import to the analysis required by the ADA.

    While you are certainly entitled to your personal opinions about how things should or shouldn’t be, perhaps you should bear in mind that the plaintiff brings his lawsuit under the ADA. That’s the law which governs, not your personal opinion on how the world should be ordered. If you aren’t analyzing the merits and demerits of the plaintiff’s case against the backdrop of the ADA, then you’re not doing much more than flattering your own personal sense of right and wrong. 

  61. 0
    Futurist says:

    If he is 100% incapable of playing the game then he should get whatever accommodation Sony deems necessary to include in their product.  He has access, has every opportunity to sit in front of the screen, to use the control mechanisms, and try to play the game that Sony intended.  Just because he is blind and has a beef with mechanisms he feels would be of benefit to him, does not entitle him to those mechanisms.

    Are you saying that because one person with a disability can do "X," everyone else with same disability should also be able to do "X?"

    Are you saying that because one person with a disability feels they need X then a company should be forced to provide that, even no one else is asking for it?  Or, at best, an extreme minority?

    But if you think it isn’t and you have the full use of your legs, then I expect you to run the 100 meters in the same time as Usain Bolt.

    No, that’s not fair.  I will file a lawsuit demanding that the laws of time and distance should be changed to accommodate me because Usain Bolt has access (faster legs and better training) than I do.  Anyone know a good lawyer?

    Oh, and again, if the audible concessions that are made available in said game to him offers an extreme advantage to non-blind players in a manner that throws off the balance of the game, possibly damaging the game reputation and, thus, sales, should his accommodation be met?

  62. 0
    JDKJ says:

    So what if one of the best Mortal Kombat players in the world is totally blind? Of what possible import is that? It means nothing. It means as much as if you were to say that there’s a blind guy in New York City who uses the subway without the aid of a seeing-eye dog and therefore there’s no need to exempt seeing-eye dogs from the rule that no animals are allowed in the subway system. Or that there a paraplegic guy in Albuquerque who doesn’t use a wheelchair because he walks everywhere he needs to go on his hands and therefore there is no need to require that buildings have wheelchair ramps. Are you saying that because one person with a disability can do "X," everyone else with same disability should also be able to do "X?" That’s completely illogical and nonsensical. But if you think it isn’t and you have the full use of your legs, then I expect you to run the 100 meters in the same time as Usain Bolt. 

    And so what if he can interact with the control mechanisms? That’s not what he’s complaining about. He saying that he’s not able to see the content because he’s visually impaired and therefore needs audible cues to compensate for that inability. That he can interact with the control mechanisms is a complete non-issue. It is wholly irrelevant to the claim he makes. Or are you operating under the assumption that because he isn’t 100% incapable of playing the game, he should get zero accommodation? That’s about as sound as your "Blind Mortal Kombat Player" argument. 

  63. 0
    Futurist says:

    And if the primacy is to play the game, I have already cited one such case in which a totally blind game player is one of the best Mortal Kombat players in the world.

    As well, if that primacy also included the ability to interact with the control mechanisms to play the game, there is nothing limiting him either.

    This is a case of the finest hair splitting I have seen in a long time and I can not see how any reasonable court could side with the plaintiff.

  64. 0
    JDKJ says:

    I didn’t intend to be understood to say that sitting in from of the monitor upon which the gaming experience is displayed is the primacy of the goods/services offered by the on-line game. I’d suspect that on-line gamers expect something more than just the ability to sit in front of their monitors and see game content. I’d suspect that they expect to actually play the game as the essence of what the on-line game offers them. My point, made in response to DarkSaber point that the blind gamer can never see the game and therefore shouldn’t expect to be accommodated, was that even if the blind theatre patron cannot ever see the movie, the theatre is still required to accommodate them as much as possible in allowing them access to the goods/services they offer, the primacy of which is to sit in front of the movie screen. Because, in the example of the movie theatre, sitting in front of the screen is the primacy of the goods/services that the theatre offers. But in the case of the on-line gaming community, playing the game is the primacy of the goods/services. If the blind movie threatre should be accommodated, then the same holds true for the blind gamer, who should be accomodated to the extent reasonably possible in allowing them access to the primacy of what the on-line game offers, which is to play the game. 

  65. 0
    Futurist says:

    What you are saying now contradicts the example you gave earlier:

    Just like a blind person can require, under the ADA, that the elevator in the movie theatre be equipped with Braille buttons and/or audible signals. This accommodation does nothing to assist the blind person in being able to see the movie being screened, but it does help to ensure that they have as much of an ability as the sighted to sit in front of the screen. That’s what the ADA was intended to ensure. That, to the extent possible, the blind and the sighted have an equal opportunity to sit in front of the screen.   

    The blind and the sighted have an equal opportunity to sit in front of Sony’s materials.  How is it ok in your example for a movie theater to allow a blind person to easily find their way to a theater, sit in a seat, and have every ability as the sighted to sit in front of the screen but not ok in the Sony case.  This person can, obviously, get the game, make their way to screen they want and have every chance to participate, except that they can’t see.

    Should the movie theater start having descriptive audio tracks that say, "The villain is now leaving the left side of the screen through a door. The good guy is now taking out a gun and shooting at the villain.", etc. to accommodate the blind patron that goes to the movie?  If those accommodations in some way adversely effect the gameplay for everyone else, should it be allowed?

  66. 0
    JDKJ says:

    But if he, because of his disability, is being denied something which others who aren’t disabled are able to enjoy in Sony’s public accommodation (assuming it is in law a public accommodation) and that denial can be reasonably rectified by Sony, then the ADA requires them to so rectify. If not, he’s being discriminated against by Sony on the basis of his disability, which the ADA prohibits. It’s not enough to say that nothing stops him from accessing the materials. He has to be able to access them in a manner functionally equal to all others, if providing that equality of functional access is reasonably within Sony’s ability.

    So, if he is somehow unable to play the game in the same manner a non-disabled person can play it and this inabilty can be fixed by Sony and it is within reason to impose on them the requirement that they fix it, then fix it they must.

     

  67. 0
    Futurist says:

    And, just as the braille helps the blind patron make their way through the physical building, to not see the movie, this guy can get to the websites and games Sony produces, and not see them to play. Nothing is stopping him from accessing the materials.

    As sympathetic as I am to his inability to play the games he wants to, I don’t see how Sony could be forced to accommodate him. These are products that are designed for a particular use case and they may not accommodate everyone.

    Sony, just show the court this article: Blind video game star prepares for Mortal (Kombat) competition in Japan

    Will, meet way.

  68. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Rights are whatever the law decides they are.

    The ADA extends all sorts of rights to the handicapped and requires buisnesses that would not normally provide access to do so.

    After all, no one has the right to buy a hamburger, but build a resturant without wheelchair access and you will get in trouble.

  69. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Nobody, able-bodied or otherwise has a "right" to make money on the side from using some luxury entertainment software

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  70. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Well, being prevented from making money IS part of the point behind the law.

    It also makes a suit more viable since proving damages when it is just ‘entertainment’ or ‘virtual’ is generally more difficult since you tend to get the ‘but it is not real, so you are not actually impacted’ argument.

    By attaching concrete economic impact to the suit, he brings it under more conventional ideas of what it means to not have access to something.

  71. 0
    JDKJ says:

    He’s not saying that because he can’t see the site, he’s being denied access to the site. He’s saying that there are reasonable accommodations for his inability to see the site (e.g., audible cues) which Sony can but won’t implement and which, if implemented, would give him greater access to the goods and services available at the site than he would have in their absence.

    Just like a blind person can require, under the ADA, that the elevator in the movie theatre be equipped with Braille buttons and/or audible signals. This accommodation does nothing to assist the blind person in being able to see the movie being screened, but it does help to ensure that they have as much of an ability as the sighted to sit in front of the screen. That’s what the ADA was intended to ensure. That, to the extent possible, the blind and the sighted have an equal opportunity to sit in front of the screen.    

  72. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Him not being able to see the site is not the same as being denied access to it. It’s not like they are blocking him from accessing it because he is blind, any more than movie theatres don’t stop blind peole from paying for a ticket and going in.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  73. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    So he did, but the point still stands. If he cared about making a meaningful change for visually-impaired people he wouldn’t just be targetting the one company who makes a game he was hoping to make money from and can’t because he can’t see it.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  74. 0
    JDKJ says:

    I wouldn’t impute motive on the basis of a decision to sue one defendant and not others. The possible reasons for that decision are myriad and don’t all necessarily implicate financial gain. Moreover, if the loss of money resulting from the alleged denial of access to the auction site and the recovery of that loss is his primary motivation, then he’s not very well motivated by pecuniary gain. How much can that loss possibly be worth?  

  75. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    But for the fact he is "losing money because he can’t use the auction site" he wouldn’t be making the claim. Notice how he isn’t suing Yukes or THQ over their WWE games despite getting much the same reaction from them that he got from Sony.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  76. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Is that his only gripe? Or is that merely a small part of a larger gripe having to do with an inability to fully access the gaming experience because his disability is not being reasonably accommodated by Sony? And unlike that numb-nut who alleged claustrophobia in a obvious attempt to garner sympathy when he claimed that his free speech rights were violated when he was banned from an on-line community, I wouldn’t say that this plaintiff is merely throwing in his disability for the same specious reasons. His disability goes to the very heart of his claim. But for his disability, he wouldn’t have the claim.

  77. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    His gripe is that he can’t use Everquests auction site to sell in-game items for real money, therefore he is "losing money". The "I’m disabled" BS is just smoke & mirrors to get a sympathy vote.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  78. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Which, I believe, makes the salient issue in this case whether or not "public accommodations" as that term is used in the ADA can include virtual business places or is limited to brick-and-mortar establishments. And the answer to that question doesn’t immediately become clear to me. If a public accommodation is, as I assume, defined by the ADA as a particular place open to all members of the public whereat goods and/or services are offered for consumption to that public and doesn’t specifically limit itself to brick-and-mortars, then why wouldn’t a virtual on-line gaming community such as those hosted by Sony satisfy that definition?

    And this is, I would think, the issue upon which plaintiff’s claim either sinks or swims. If he is correct in asserting that Sony’s on-line gaming community is in fact a "public accommodation," then the rest of his hurdles are relatively low set. But if can’t establish that there’s any "public accommodation" at issue, then his case is effectively crippled at that point.

  79. 0
    Papa Midnight says:

    The inherit difference here though is that this is a private corporation which provides no brick and mortar outlets. In that case, say if they did not provide accomodations for wheel-chair bound individuals, then that would be different. However, saying that Sony does not make accomodations for blind persons is ridiculous.

    You might as well sign up every single TV or Display manufacturer onto that list of defendents as well. But don’t stop there, because you know you will need to sign up audio companies as well for not tending to the needs of the deaf; networks for not producing a dynamic board which produces multiple tactitle responses in the form of braile; content producers for not producing content for handicapped individuals. Yes, these are all ridiculous suits, but the point is still the same.

    Besides, why sue only Sony? Why not Microsoft? Nintendo? Jillians? Dave and Busters? The Arcade on the corner down the street?

    —-
    Papa Midnight
    http://www.thesupersoldiers.com

  80. 0
    Chuma says:

    I’m glad you mentioned the concept of getting a bigger monitor because I was afraid of appearing flippant with regards to suggesting that the complainant in this lawsuit do just that.

  81. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Maybe you should consider suing them to make DDO more accessible for you.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  82. 0
    nightwng2000 says:

    My face is usually about 6 inches or less from the screen at all times when reading.

    I typically keep the resolution of both my work and home computer at 800×600.  It used to be… what… 640×480?  I can’t remember anymore.  In recent years, 800×600 has pretty much become the minimum requirements for most everything.

    Of course, I can sit back for general game playing.  Smaller objects are still hard to see and make out unless there is some sort of "cue" (like flashing).  Games like NeverWinter Nights let you hold down a key (tab I think) and everything that can be manipulated will "glow".  Sometimes that helps.  But I don’t think there is that option in Dungeons & Dragons Online.  And seeing some things are hard.  But I think that’s part of the game too.  To overlook some things, like devices to disable traps.

    Nightwng2000

    NW2K Software

    http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000

    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  83. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Because being legally blind isn’t the same thing as being functionally blind. You can be less than 100% functionally blind and still satisfy the requirements for being legally blind.

  84. 0
    JDKJ says:

    What I haven’t forgot is that regardless of how confident you make yourself sound in pontificating on legal matters, you still don’t know the difference between canons of law and a can of lard.

  85. 0
    nightwng2000 says:

    Actually, no.  If the book somehow blocked 3rd party hardware/software (magnifying glasses, CCTV devices, etc) from being used, then, yes, one might have a case. 

    Now, interesting sidebar, there HAS been some serious debate about the legality of blocking Text-To-Speech in the use of Amazon’s Kindle device.

    Nightwng2000

    NW2K Software

    http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000

    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  86. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    Wow.  Oh, wait, I forgot, you believe every corporation in this world should be brought down, cuz you’re some bleeding-heart douchebag.  Yep, it’s all Sony’s fault this guy isn’t making money, so let’s take ’em down.

    He was dead when I got here.

  87. 0
    JDKJ says:

    The Americans with Disabilities Act, under which the plaintiff in this case brings legal action, only applies to those who create a "public accommodation" (a particular place where goods and/or services are offered to the public for consumption). If a visually-impaired person sued a book publisher because the print in their book was too small, the obvious basis for throwing out the suit, regardless of legal precedent, would be the simple fact that the book publisher by mere virtue of being a publisher of books hasn’t in any way created a public accommodation. No public accommodation, no valid ADA lawsuit. It don’t take much legal precedent to figure that one out, just a little bit of common sense. 

  88. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    Well, if this really had any sort of legs, visually impaired people could sue book publishers because the print is too small.  If anything, this will be thrown out in order to prevent that kind of precedent.

    He was dead when I got here.

  89. 0
    Austin_Lewis says:

    Indeed, it is the most revealing part of the complaint.  It’s also, as you mentioned, very interesting that it didn’t make the cut for reporting, as it’s kind of telling of the motivation of the complainant.

  90. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Yeah, that for me is the most revealing part of the complaint. Funny how Gamepolitics neglected to include it in their article isn’t it?

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    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  91. 0
    Austin_Lewis says:

    ‘Beyond the denial of entertainment, the suit also contends that Sony’s actions have caused visually impaired gamers a financial loss. Because Sony runs an official auction site where gamers can sell their in-game items for real money, the suit says Stern’s inability to participate in that marketplace is costing him money. ‘

    Lol wut?

  92. 0
    JDKJ says:

    The brick-and-mortar examples were used only as clear examples of a public accommodation. But if there is a virtual community which Sony has created and to which it has invited all to enter and partake of the goods and/or services offered therein, then that could also be construed as a public accommodation and one to which the requirements of the ADA would apply just as they would apply to a brick-and-mortar public accommodation. Moreover, if the plaintiff’s claim is factually valid, there are reasonable steps which Sony can take and which would allow him to partake of those goods and/or services (e.g., audible cues). It’s not as if the fact that he can’t see the visuals makes it wholly impossible for him to play the game. As he tells the story, if Sony does what it has to in order to accommodate him, he can.  

  93. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    As an aside to all this, Gamepolitics appears to have made the complaint out to be more about trying to make things better for visually-impaired people rather than about money, a rather misleading change from the original Gamespot article and complaint.

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    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  94. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Since when were Everquest servers or WWE games brick-and-mortar establishments? To put it in your own misplaced terms, nobody is denying him access to these games. He can buy them, pop them in the playstation or whatever, subscribe for an account. It’s not their fault he fails to take into account the fact he can’t see them when they are running. The game is just as "functionally equal" for him as it is for anyone else. HE’S the one that isn’t "functionally equal".

    Also, I’d imagine a quadriplegic would have a hard time using a wheelchair unassisted.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  95. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Whether it makes sense or not, that is what the ADA requires of those who open an accommodation to the public. It doesn’t matter that it’s a quadriplegic who’s insisting that Gold’s Gym put in a wheelchair ramp so he can’t work out at Gold’s Gym. The ADA requires Gold’s Gym to put in the ramp, regardless of whether or not the quadriplegic has much practical use for the accommodations being offered by Gold’s Gym.

    And the buying an album and being able to listen to it analogy is misplaced. The mere fact of selling someone an album doesn’t, I would think, qualify as creating a public accommodation. But if you own a brick-and-mortar record store open to the public, you can’t discriminate against the deaf guy by denying him access functionally equal to all others.

    And many business concerns have been required to put in telephone systems which accommodate the hearing-impaired. That a deaf guy wants to call them up on the telephone and conduct business with them isn’t an excuse for them not to install a TDD system, regardless of how ridiculous the expectation may seem to others.

  96. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    And what next, a deaf person suing record labels because he can’t hear albums? The only "problem" is that a person with visual impairment is trying to use a VISUAL medium.

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    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  97. 0
    PHOENIXZERO says:

    Because it’s easy to do and there’s always a lawyer out there that’ll take your case, even if there’s zero chance of winning. We also don’t force the loser to pay the winner’s legal fees without a counter-suit or it being a part of the lawsuit. Plus large companies are more apt to just settle out of court to little things to avoid their legal bills and wasting time and a fear of potential bad publicity, especially when they know there’s a chance of losing. Though when they decide to defend themselves you best hope you win or reach a settlement because they’ll have the power wreck you financially due to their expensive lawyers.

  98. 0
    Neeneko says:

    True, federal buildings are a differnt matter.  The same might extend to federal contractors since they are generally audited for complaiance otherwise they do not get paid.

    Privatly constructed structures though have no such inspection, unless that has changed.

  99. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Federal office buildings open to the public have to be ADA compliant. Constructions plans for those buildings can’t even get approved if they don’t comply. I could be wrong, but I also believe that other federal laws required existing federal buildings to be retrofitted so that they become ADA compliant. You’d be hard pressed to find a federal building that doesn’t have a ramp or its elevator buttons in Braille.

  100. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Either you didn’t read what you were replying to properly or you are thinking of a different guy. He was demanding money there and then OR ELSE he would file a suit. That’s called extortion.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  101. 0
    Father Time says:

    You’re legally blind, I never knew that. How are you able to read the computer screen?

    —————————————————-

    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  102. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Yes, I believe the requirement of accommodating the disabled has to be within reason. Or, put differently, an unreasonable accommodation can’t be required. But if the plaintiff is correct when he asserts that the addition of audible cues would equip him to play the game, that requirement doesn’t sound unreasonable. It sounds like an easy enough fix, well within Sony’s resources.

  103. 0
    nightwng2000 says:

    As a Legally Blind individual, I’m SOMEWHAT embarassed by the lawsuit.  But not totally, depending on some of the facts of the case.

    For example, Singling out a company for not providing direct access while many others are also not providing direct access seems… off at the least and stupid at the worst.

    Look at the comment about WoW.  Blizzard, while offering SOME direct fixes for those with a variety of visual problems, does not solve every problem.  It’s even stated that in some cases, it’s 3RD PARTY mods.  Of course, Blizzard could block those mods if they wanted to.

    With a PC, providing, or refusing to provide (blocking access to), 3rd party access lessens a blow, or makes it worse for, the company that makes the primary product.

    Darksaber mentions a deaf person and music.  While suing a music production company for not providing direct alternate sensations to the music experience might seem wrong, suing because the music production company openly and intentionaly blocks the use of that music on 3rd party devices that translate the sound to other forms of media (such as vibration or voice to text) might be more reasonable.

    A console, however, is different.  Many are blocking access to 3rd party hardware/software.  So, the primary software and/or hardware maker are responsible for providing or not providing access.

    A "brick and mortar" symbolism is more appropriate because a console, hardware and software, are more static than a PC.  The question becomes just how responsible does a company have to be?  What is "within reason"?  Yes, it’s a visual medium.  You can’t easily translate a high graphic system to touch.  But, larger print options?  Color options?  What is and what isn’t "within reason"?

    I especially had difficulty playing video/computer games for the last 5 years thanks to a blooming of cataracts in my left eye.  Very depressing as I had been a pretty darn good street racing gamer.

    In March, the cataract was removed from the left eye.  I’m 20/200 (which is what it was before the cataract bloomed) with a High Definition clarity.  The right eye is somewhat obscured by cataract, driving it down from it’s normal 20/200 to about 20/400.  Now that the left eye is cleared up, I’m enjoying driving again.  And playing Saints Row 2, GTA IV, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and others.  Some games like DDO are difficult with the writing.  And WoW tends to be worse since I couldn’t get mods to work.  But I’m still playing, and no worries about a lawsuit.  :)

    BTW, I’m Bewen in DDO on the K server (I forget it’s full name) and don’t be upset if I don’t respond to chats.  I can’t focus on the chat and do other things because I’m only really looking out of one eye (left).    So, apologies in advance.  :)

    Nightwng2000

    NW2K Software

    http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000

    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  104. 0
    Defenestrator says:

    No.  TV is not a public accomodation space the way he’s claiming a piece of virtual real estate is, whether he can see it or not.  Likewise, a blind person can get in to a movie theater just fine (i.e. he has access to the movie).

    I wonder if this will be the key to Sony’s counter argument.  The plaintiff still has access to their virtual world, but he can’t use that virtual world the way others do.  If a blind person goes to a movie, he can only hear the movie — he’s not guaranteed that he can see the movie due to the ADA.  (As an aside, there’s a blind guy in my area that reviews movies on a local radio program — he’s actually rather hilarious.)

    I don’t know how the ADA will react in conjunction with the "virtual world needs to be fully accessible to the blind" and the "loss of commerce and income" argument.

    I should mention that I’ve always believed that the ADA is a very nice and well-intentioned law, but it’s also poorly worded and is open to abuses.

  105. 0
    Moriarty70 says:

    So if this ends in the plantiff’s favour, does that mean discriptive audio will be mandatory for all TV shows/movies instead of optional? Also, I belive Sony has a valid case (I can’t believe I just said that) in not allowing modifications, considering that’s one of the primary ways of cheating.

    This feels akin to asking in Canada that all shows have the option of subtitles in the oposite official language then they are presented in.

  106. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    More information is already available but GP, in its "infinite wisdom" decided to leave it out of their version of events.

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    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  107. 0
    nightwng2000 says:

    As I say, the problem with console systems and games is that they are static.  Every effort is made to prevent 3rd party software and options from being made available.  A PC is different in that it is solely the software that blocks 3rd party options and software.

    I’m not sure what precisely the problem he is having with the Auction system as I don’t participate in the auctions.  Text size perhaps?

    And, yes, there is a greater limitation on the Visual options available on console games.  While some options such as Brightness and Gamma do make a difference to some, PC options such as resolution, larger font, even color correction for red/green are usually unavailable to console gamers.  Usually, the TV/monitor itself has more options than what is available in the console game.  But it still doesn’t affect things such as Text font size.

    I gotta say, if he turned it into a Class Action suit, I wouldn’t be signing up for it. 

    And I also think the modifications should be options, not set requirements for everyone, or even every circumstance.

    And I also wouldn’t argue in favor of forcing console system makers and console software makers to be forced to accept 3rd party software/hardware.  Especially since it tends to lead to other… mods.  It would be better PR for them to offer the options within their software/hardware.  But, hey, I’m not the one running the companies.

    It’s funny, too, that some of the Gamespot commenters refer to cars.  They apparently haven’t looked up the various prototypes in vehicle design which COULD, eventually, open the door to more visually impaired individuals actually becoming "drivers".  :)

    Nightwng2000

    NW2K Software

    http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000

    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  108. 0
    JDKJ says:

    What if his gripe isn’t directed at console gaming but, rather, at Sony’s on-line gaming communities? Doesn’t Sony have the ability to control/dictate the substance of those games? At least to the extent needed to add audible cues? And it’s not a rhetorical question. I know squat about an on-line game. But I’d imagine that if his gripe is limited to console gaming only, he’ll have a difficult time establishing that there’s a "public accommodation" at issue.

  109. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    He’s suing over Everquest, a game developed and published by Sony.

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    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  110. 0
    MrBounce says:

    @Nightwing2000: I don’t think you get why this lawsuit is just another "only in America" lawsuit.

    Regardless of how well Sony makes the PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP, PSPGo, etc, what good is it going to do the accuser when the software (ie. the games) doesn’t support visually impaired people?

    I don’t see very many console games that allow me to increase the font size of text or have any other visual cues. On the contrary because games nowadays are designed for HD tv’s, sometimes reading the font can be difficult even for people with good eye sight if you have a SD tv. You don’t see them suing Sony, do you?

  111. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Hrm.  I am probably thinking of a different person, but the one I heard of was doing something similiar because it turns out ADA is not actually activly enforced, so he would go around sueing for infractions because otherwise nothing would be done.   ADA is completely dependent on citizens bringing suits against offenders for enforcement.

  112. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    I think I heard about that guy, didn’t he get exposed on Penn & Tellers Bullshit!?

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  113. 0
    Demontestament says:


    Who is this guys lawyer? The only reason I ask is because there was a lawyer in California posing as disabled man, who would go into bathrooms at stores and restaurants find a so called infraction, He would literally measure everything and if anything was even a centimeter off he would threaten to sue the owners unless they gave him a ridiculous amount of money on the spot. As most refused he would then have an actual disabled person go into the location, raise a fuss and sue under the American’s with Disabilities Act. This sounds like the same situation; Sony does not meet the demands of the guy so he is going to sue them for discrimination under the ADA.

    "Among other actions, Stern is seeking an injunction to prohibit Sony from violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, a declaration that Sony owns, operates and maintains equipment that discriminates against the disabled, unspecified damages and to have his lawyer’s fees and expenses paid for." 

    Yeah good luck proving that. Just because you cannot "Pwn bitches" online due to your disability does not mean that Sony is discriminating against you.

  114. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Until more information comes out, it is hard to say.

    Since he was talking about visual cues, my guess is that he is not blind but instead had some type of visual defect and is asking for options that make the game more accessable similiar to what is already built into OSes and many websites.

    It actually relates to something I have been noticing lately.  Many games used to have things like alternate colour pallets for colourblind people (since it is pretty common in males) or high contrast pallets for other visual issues.. but I have not seen anything like that in years.  I guess when your market is small you try to include as many customers as possible, but when your market is large you do not bother.

    Which always seems rather odd.   In any other buisness (then computers), if someone comes up and says ‘hey, I can get you 5-10% more customers for a cheap modification!’ you get praised.  But in comptuers and games you get rants saying ‘it is only 5-10%! we should not change anything for a minority!’.

  115. 0
    Zerodash says:

    Am I missing something here, or is this guy suing Sony because he can’t see visual-based media? 

    Are other blind people suing art galleries because they can’t see the paintings?

    Are they suing newspapers because they can’t see the print?

  116. 0
    JDKJ says:

    In all fairness but without benefit of having read his complaint, he appears to be just as, if not more, concerned with getting injunctive and declaratory relief as he is with the monetary damages. Perhaps he’s one of the rare breed of plaintiffs who aren’t interested in making a buck with their lawsuit but, rather, wants to fix what they see as a problem.

  117. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Apparently this all came about after he sent a letter to THQ making suggestions about they could modify their WWE games so that he could see it better (self-centered much?) and got back a letter thanking him for praising the graphics.

    And now he claims the lack of visual aids in Everquest is losing him ACTUAL money. Just because someone isn’t disabled doesn’t exclude them from being a dick.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  118. 0
    JDKJ says:

    I’m not so sure that he’s D.O.A. If he’s claiming that Sony’s on-line, multi-player, gaming sites are public accommodations (which, intuitively and without benefit of much knowledge of the ADA, I can see where they would be), and he’s legally correct in so claiming, then he’s got some legs underneath him. Besides, as a disabled person, he’s a sympathetic plaintiff. While Sony, I’d imagine, would tend not to elicit much sympathy from anyone.

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