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AIRPORT SETTLES SUIT BY DEAF HOPE'S TERMINALS TO ADD PHONES, VIDEO MONITORS.

Byline: EUGENE TONG Staff Writer

BURBANK -- Bob Hope Airport will install monitors and a kiosk to make security, baggage and other announcements for the deaf and hard of hearing part of a settlement of a 2004 disability lawsuit, officials said Thursday.

In the settlement with the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, also called GLAD, the airport will add two monitors in each of its two terminals to display messages and pages broadcast over the public address system.

Also, the airport will install a video information kiosk to help hearing-impaired passengers navigate the facility, arrange for sign-language interpreters upon request and increase the number of teletype pay phones to at least nine.

Only two were in place, both in Terminal B, when the lawsuit was filed. There are now eight throughout the airport.

``We were seeking equal access for people that are deaf, and this settlement puts a number of measures into place that will achieve that aim,'' said Kevin Knestrick, an attorney with Oakland-Disability Rights Advocates, which represented Eagle Rock-based GLAD.

Airport officials must meet the phone requirement within six months and install the information monitors within two years, according to the consent decree filed in August in U.S. District Court.

The airport authority also will pay $4,000 in damages to the plaintiffs and $68,000 in attorneys' fees.

``Our mission is to provide state-of-the-art regional airport facilities that are efficient, safe, convenient and user- friendly,'' Dios Marrero, the airport's executive director, said in a prepared statement. ``Making the airport more readily accessible to persons who are deaf and hard of hearing helps us fulfill that mission.''

The lawsuit filed in June 2004 by GLAD and Lisa Aiello of Van Nuys alleged the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and state law by failing to provide services such as teletype phones and enough visual information allowing equal access for the deaf and hearing-impaired.

``It's critical that all public facilities recognize and meet the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,'' Patricia Hughes, GLAD's chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement. ``We hope that this will serve as a model for other airports to follow.''

The airport was eager to negotiate a reasonable settlement, spokesman Victor Gill said.

``The whole point was to find a process that was more collegial than litigation,'' he said, ``and I think both parties achieved their ends on that score.''

eugene.tong(at)dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 6, 2006
Words:409
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