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Court Upholds Decision Requiring Redskins To Provide Close Captioning For Deaf Fans

The Washington Redskins will be required to provide close-captioning on the scoreboard and texts of announcements made by the public-address announcer from now on after a federal appeals judge ruled in favor of three deaf fans earlier this week. The fans sued the team for not providing these things for deaf patrons, which they said violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a 2-1 decision, the court said the Redskins must provide these things to allow deaf fans to participate in the in-game experience.

"By having access to the lyrics, plaintiffs have the opportunity to participate in the communal entertainment experience," the court said in a 2-1 decision. "Without access to lyrics played, for example, during cheerleader dance routines and the halftime show, plaintiffs would not fully and equally experience the planned and synchronized promotional entertainment that large stadiums like FedEx Field provide."     

The suit was brought forward in 2006 when the National Association of the Deaf represented three deaf patrons who had asked the team to provide captioning on the jumbotron. According to court documents, the team refused because the words would take up too much space on the screen.

The Redskins had begun providing close-captioning after the lawsuit was filed, but the court decided that the dispute was still ongoing because the Redskins could pull the service at any time otherwise. The Redskins say they tried to settle and that the plaintiffs had kept the case going just to rack up the attorney's fees, a claim the plaintiffs denied.