Settlement Reached Regarding Wheelchair-Accessible Seating at Mahalia Jackson Theater
A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against the City of New Orleans and the company that operates the Mahalia Jackson Theater, which challenged the lack of wheelchair-accessible seating at the facility.
In October 2009, Advocacy Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of John Matthews, an individual who uses a wheelchair, regarding the lack of wheelchair-accessible seating in the Mahalia Jackson Theater. The parties to the case have reached a settlement that will significantly improve access for people with disabilities.
John Matthews is a long-time supporter of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) and other New Orleans-based performing arts groups. He uses a wheelchair because of significant physical disabilities. When he was told that he would have to pay box-seat prices to a get wheelchair-accessible seat to an LPO concert, Mr. Matthews contacted the Advocacy Center for help.
"We are pleased that the number of designated wheelchair spaces in the theater will increase by 16 seats, plus companion seating. These seats will be made available for the price levels offered to the general public, " said Susan Meyers, managing attorney for the Advocacy Center. The settlement also provides for other modifications to make the theater more accessible to people with disabilities.
"Under this agreement, the City of New Orleans and Arts Center Enterprises, LLC will undertake to improve access for people with disabilities. The result, we expect, is that the Mahalia Jackson Theater will now be accessible, not only to our individual client, but to all who wish to participate in the rich cultural traditions of performing arts in this community. This resolution gets to the heart of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is intended to ensure that people with disabilities may participate fully and be integrated into all activities of society and government," said Lois Simpson, Executive Director of the Advocacy Center.