Deaf woman says Pepsi Center not in compliance with disabilities act, files lawsuit


The Pepsi Center

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DENVER — A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Kroenke Sports and Entertainment and the Pepsi Center on behalf of a deaf woman who said they are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Pepsi Center is home to the Nuggets, Avalanche and Mammoth, and plays host to a wide variety of shows and concerts. For most the atmosphere inside the downtown Denver arena is electric in both sight and sound.

But imagine watching a game or concert in silence. You can see what’s in front of you but can’t hear what’s announced, or played overhead. For Kirstin Kurlander, that is life.

“I have zero hearing,” Kurlander said.

The attorney lost her hearing at age 22 but not her zest for the experiences of life.

“I don’t hear the announcements that are happening, I don’t hear the entertainment portion. I don’t hear the score, talking about the players. So you’re missing a lot of information,” she said.

And its information she said she and others who are also deaf or hard of hearing shouldn’t have to miss.

“The law is really clear that they need to make it accessible to deaf and hard of hearing patients,” she said.

Under the American’s with Disabilities act, Kurlander said the Pepsi Center is required to provide captioning but is failing to do so.

“We should have the same rights and be able to go and enjoy the experience in the same way,” she said.

Amy Robertson, an attorney with the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, said in 2013, the Pepsi Center installed one of the world’s largest JumboTrons but captioning on the big screen is not there.

“Daktronics, which is the company that supplied the JumboTron, advertises that its very, very simple to provide captioning on their technology,” Robertson said.

She points to examples from around the county like the University of Oregon football stadium and Citi Field in New York, and she said even Coors Field captions what is being broadcast in the venue.

“We’ve been talking to them for over a year to try to find a solution and we just don’t seem to be able to come up with an agreed approach,” Robertson said of negotiations with Kroenke Sports and Entertainment and the Pepsi Center.

Robertson said when negotiations failed to produce results, she, on behalf of Kurlander, filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Colorado. They say what they are asking for is simple.

“I don’t think we are asking for a lot. We just want to have equal access,” Kurlander said.

Kroenke Sports and Entertainment did not return calls seeking comment.

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