Disability Rights

People with disabilities continue to face many barriers to information, technology, housing, education, employment, and transportation. The attorneys at Brown, Goldstein & Levy take pride in our high-profile, high-impact disability rights cases and our assistance as representatives for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Brown, Goldstein & Levy became involved in the field of disability rights law twenty-five years ago at the behest of the National Federation of the Blind. Over a decade ago, the NFB asked us to assist in devising and executing a strategy of education, negotiation, and litigation to make mainstream technology accessible to the blind. Pursuant to that strategy, we have sought to increase the accessibility of the Internet with suits against America Online and Target; to make consumer kiosks, such as ATMs and airline ticket machines, accessible through suits against manufacturers, owners, and operators; and to make voting accessible through suits against states and counties. We have reached agreements with Apple to make iTunes U accessible and with Target, eBay, Ticketmaster, and others to make their websites accessible. We secured $6 million for class members in the Target litigation.

In 2009, we helped form the Reading Rights Coalition, bringing together 30 organizations representing persons with print disabilities. The goal of the RRC is to make mainstream e-book devices, applications, and content accessible. To that end, the RRC reached a joint position statement with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers in March 2010 that whenever a book is available in an electronic format, it should be accessible to persons with print disabilities. We also represented the NFB in a suit against Arizona State University over its Kindle e-book pilot program and filed complaints with the Department of Justice against five other schools with similar programs.

We represented the National Federation of the Blind and blind individuals in litigation against the Law School Admissions Council, and settled on terms that required the LSAC website, including all law school applications, to be fully accessible to blind users. We also successfully challenged the policy of the National Council of Bar Examiners and state bars to refuse to allow blind prospective attorneys to use screen readers on the bar examination.

The firm has won significant victories for persons with mobility and other impairments under both the ADA and the Fair Housing Act, striking down discriminatory zoning ordinances and requiring accessible construction of housing. We have also won victories for persons with hearing impairments, including a recent victory requiring FedExField, the Washington Redskins’ stadium, to caption content.

For over 20 years, we have been a national leader fighting to protect the rights of blind entrepreneurs under the Randolph-Sheppard Act. In 1987 we represented a group of Maryland vendors, ultimately obtaining an agreement that lowered the amount of set-aside the State collected from vendors by more than two-thirds. Since that first case, we have represented blind managers, groups of managers, state licensing agencies, the National Association of Blind Merchants, and the National Federation of the Blind throughout the United States in arbitrations, trial courts, and appellate courts. We have won several precedent-setting Randolph-Sheppard cases, including the first decisions to apply the Act to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans’ Canteen Service and to military mess halls. These cases also established that federal agencies cannot charge commissions on vending machine receipts and that the Veterans’ Canteen Service cannot install vending machines in competition with a machine-only vending facility.

Andy Levy served as Chair of the Maryland Commission on Disabilities from 2010-2015. The Commission advises the Maryland Department of Disabilities on changes to improve, reorganize, or streamline services for people with disabilities.

Because lawyers with disabilities are significantly underrepresented in the legal profession, Brown, Goldstein & Levy has established the Brown, Goldstein & Levy Disability Rights Fellowship to identify talented lawyers with disabilities who are expected to be future leaders in the legal profession. The year-long fellowship recognizes recent law school graduates or young lawyers with a disability, who have strong academic credentials, superior writing skills, and a demonstrated commitment to disability rights.

In December 2009, Brown, Goldstein & Levy signed a Pledge for Change for Disability Diversity in the Legal Profession sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law. This confirms our commitment to legal representation that reflects the diversity of our employees, customers, and the communities where we do business.

Our Services

  • Serve as counsel or in an advisory capacity on disability civil rights issues for disability advocacy organizations throughout the state of Maryland and nationwide.
  • Represent individuals with disabilities and their families who require services or supports from state or federal government.
  • Represent individuals with disabilities seeking accommodations from employers or service providers.
  • Advocate for special education and support services for children and their families and for developmental and mental health services for adults.
  • Work with state and federal enforcement agencies to effectively implement the civil rights laws for people with disabilities.

Representative Cases

  • First­-of­-its­-kind agreement with Pursuant Health, Inc. to make its self­-service health care kiosks accessible to blind consumers.
  • Groundbreaking technology access cases against, among others, Target and America Online, establishing that websites can be places of “public accommodation” that must be accessible to the blind.
  • Class action on behalf of more than 2,000 Social Security Administration federal employees with targeted disabilities claiming they were not promoted despite their status on best-qualified lists.
  • First judgment in the country under the design and construction accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
  • A lawsuit against the country’s largest private developer of college dormitories for building inaccessible dormitories.
  • Case that led directly to elimination of the requirement that group homes submit to public hearings and neighbor notification before opening.
  • Suit against the Washington Redskins that won an order requiring FedEx Field to provide its deaf and hard-of-hearing clientele with equal access to aural content broadcast in the stadium.
  • Won a ruling requiring a public school district to provide braille instruction to a blind student.
  • Suit that compelled the Circuit Court for Baltimore City to make its services and facilities accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Holding that abstention was not appropriate in suit brought to invalidate restrictive covenant that discriminated against group homes for people with disabilities.
  • Complaints with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind requesting investigations of nine law schools for violating the civil rights of blind and other print-disabled law school applicants by requiring applicants to apply online through the inaccessible Law School Admissions Council website.
  • Class action settlement that resulted in significant improvements to the Maryland Transit Administration’s mobility system for people with severe disabilities.
  • An administrative complaint with the United States Department of Education on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind and a blind person, asserting that one of the Department of Education’s websites, U.S.A. Learns, violates Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act because it is inaccessible to blind people who use text-to-speech screen access technology or braille displays to access information on the Internet.
  • Successfully negotiated settlements with institutions of higher education to ensure that blind students have equal access to online learning environments.
  • Represented blind law school graduates in their suits against the National Conference of Bar Examiners and state bars after they denied requests to use screen-access software to take the Multistate Bar Examination.

Awards

  • Best Lawyers 2018 Baltimore Civil Rights Law Lawyer of the Year
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the field of Civil Rights Law (2014-2018)
  • Brown, Goldstein & Levy ranked in the 2017 “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers Tier 1 Baltimore for Civil Rights Law
  • Kenneth Jernigan Award, given to someone who has made a significant contribution to the blindness community (2016)
  • American Bar Association’s Paul G. Hearne Award, presented each year to an individual who has made significant contributions to further the rights, dignity, and access to justice for people with disabilities (2011)
  • ARC of Baltimore “Stanley S. Herr Advocacy Leadership Award,” presented to a person who demonstrates in his/her profession outstanding advocacy, scholarship and leadership on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities (2008, 2006)
  • Bernard A. Gould Award of The Arc of Maryland for Outstanding Leadership and Dedication Benefitting Persons with Developmental Disabilities and their Families (2007)
  • League for People with Disabilities. “Disability Advocacy and Awareness Award” (2001)
  • Maryland Bar Foundation “Professional Legal Excellence Award for Advancement of the Rights of the Disadvantaged” (2000)

Publications

Presentations

  • Keynote Speaker – Eve Hill, “Closing the Justice Gap for California’s Immigrant Youth; through the lens of education and immigration,” Southwestern Law School Clinic, October 19, 2017.
  • Keynote Speaker – Eve Hill, Disability Rights Maine Annual Conference, October 6, 2017.
  • Co-Presenter – Eve Hill, National Teleconference to the Vocational Rehabilitation Attorney Network on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, hosted by the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, September 21, 2017.
  • “The Long Game: Why the 1957 Civil Rights Act Still Matters Today,” Eve Hill participated in a Panel Discussion, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Washington, DC, September 13, 2017.
  • “Charter Schools & Vouchers Part 2: Promising Practices,” Eve Hill participated in a Panel Discussion, the National Council on Disability’s Quarterly Meeting, Washington, DC, August 24, 2017.
  • “How Trump’s Deregulatory Agenda Hurts People’s Everyday Lives,” Eve Hill participated in a Panel Discussion, The Center for American Progress, Washington, DC, July 26, 2017.
  • Employment of People with Disabilities: Achieving the Americans with Disabilities Act’s Goal of Economic Self-Sufficiency,” The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Taskforces on Rights, Employment and Training and the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination, and the co-chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, Washington, DC, July 19, 2017. An attendee’s observation.
  • Eve Hill’s Testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee as it convened to consider Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to be an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, DC, March 23, 2017.
  • Eve Hill made remarks at the White House Forum on Criminal Justice Reform and People with Disabilities, Washington, DC, July 18, 2016.

Media

Blog Articles


Best Lawyers Award Badge

Greg Care
Joe Espo
Andy Freeman
Dan Goldstein
Eve Hill
Regina Kline
Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum
Andy Levy
Jessie Weber

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