National Federation of the Blind Supports Blind Mother’s Suit Against Seattle Public Schools
Seattle, Washington (August 21, 2014): With the assistance of the National Federation of the Blind, Noel Nightingale, a blind mother of three children enrolled in Seattle schools, filed suit (case 2:14-cv-01286) yesterday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Seattle Division, against Seattle Public Schools. The suit alleges discrimination against Ms. Nightingale under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, because the Seattle Public Schools website and ST Math, a software program that students are required to use to complete math assignments, are not accessible to her. She therefore cannot obtain information from the website, including information about her children’s academic progress, or assist her children with math assignments. Blind people use computers, smartphones, and tablets equipped with special software that allows the contents of websites, applications, and documents to be read aloud or displayed in Braille on a connected Braille device. When websites, applications, or documents are not properly coded, however, they cannot be accessed with the technology used by the blind.
Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Like all parents, blind parents have the right to participate in their children’s education. In twenty-first century America, parents have an unprecedented level of access to information about their children’s schools and academic performance, but blind parents are denied this access when the technology that public school systems use is inaccessible to them. That is why we are assisting Ms. Nightingale and will fight for the right of all blind parents to access the technology used by the schools their children attend.”
Ms. Nightingale said: “As a parent, I want to do all I can to help my children to succeed in school and to keep track of their academic progress. I cannot do these things when I am denied access to all of the same information and tools provided by their school system to sighted parents. I hope that Seattle Public Schools will quickly make its technology accessible to all blind people who are part of the school system.”
Ms. Nightingale is represented in this matter by Jesse Wing and Joseph Shaeffer of the Seattle firm Macdonald Hoague & Bayless, and by Daniel F. Goldstein and Emily L. Levenson of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP.