Deaf Participants Sue Burning Man Over Lack of Interpreters

Deaf Participants Sue Burning Man Over Lack of Interpreters

Federal lawsuit alleges violation of Americans With Disabilities Act.

​Two deaf men have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the annual Burning Man event violates the Americans With Disabilities Act by not providing interpreters for hearing impaired participants, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Melvin Patterson and Branton Stewart claim Burning Man dropped its sign language interpreters program in 2017 and refuses to bring it back for the 2019 event, which began on Sunday in Nevada.

Burning Man Project, based in San Francisco, manages and operates the arts metropolis created in the desert each year. It is named as a defendant in the suit. Representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Mercury News.

Patterson has attended Burning Man since 2012, and has worked as a “Black Rock Ranger” the past five years. The rangers are a volunteer group that “act as non-confrontational community mediators, providers of reliable information, facilitators of public safety … and navigators of the edge of chaos,” according to Burning Man’s website.

Patterson says that without the interpreters he cannot communicate with fellow rangers. Last summer, according to the lawsuit, he requested three gift tickets for interpreters but was denied.

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