The Cypress Gardens Theme Park is located in Winter Haven, Florida, and since 1936 has been open to the public for the viewing of gardens, butterflies, birds, and wildlife, as well as boat rides and live entertainment. In February of 2001, the Department of Justice received a complaint alleging that Cypress Gardens failed to provide auxiliary aids and services to guests with hearing impairments. The Civil Rights Division investigated this matter, and found the allegations to be meritorious. Cypress Gardens cooperated with the investigation, and has agreed to take the steps below to ensure that guests with hearing impairments receive effective communication of the services at Cypress Gardens, in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iii).
Steps To Be Taken by Cypress Gardens:
1.Cypress Gardens agrees to ensure effective communication to its guests with hearing impairments, and will provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services at no cost to the guests. While methods of complying with the ADA will differ depending upon the particular attraction and the needs of the guest, such methods include, but are not limited to: captioning; sign language interpreters; assistive listening systems (ALS's); signage, TTYs and written aids.
2.Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, Cypress Gardens agrees to purchase six FM transmitters and 24 FM receivers, to be available at all shows. The systems will be available for all events and attractions at the Gardens, including boat rides, and all staff who operate sound equipment or assist guests will be trained in the effective operation of the FM system. The equipment will be maintained in good working order at all times, including operable batteries, whenever necessary, and electrical outlets, where possible, to operate the systems.
3.There are qualified sign language interpreters among the staff of Cypress Gardens, capable of oral or ASL interpretations, and their services will be made available upon request. Guests who request an interpreter will be guaranteed a qualified sign language interpreter will be provided within two hours of the request. No fee will be imposed. The guest and one companion shall be provided seating that will permit them an unobstructed line of sight at no greater distance from the interpreter than ten feet. Interpreter information will be made available from Guest Services, in the park map, and in educational literature, as well as on the Cypress Gardens site on the Internet. Signage will direct deaf or hard of hearing patrons to seating reserved for persons who require an interpreter. Cypress gardens agrees to distribute information about the availability of its services for deaf and hard of hearing persons to major organizations for the deaf and hard of hearing communities, identified by the Department, within a reasonable time following the date of this Agreement.
4.Cypress Gardens is expanding the scope and depth of employee training in disability awareness, etiquette, and services available, consistent with the employee's responsibilities. Such training includes, as applicable, treatment of guests with disabilities, the availability of services and auxiliary aids, and procedures and policies regarding guests with disabilities. Cypress gardens shall provide training materials to the Department for periodic review, upon request from the Department.
5.Cypress Gardens will continue to provide a complaint procedure for guests including complaints regarding treatment of guests with hearing disabilities and availability of auxiliary aids. All Cypress Gardens Guest Services employees located at any Guest Services location shall be trained to respond to questions or complaints about: current policies for addressing the needs of guests with disabilities, information about available transcripts, paper and pencil, and emergency procedures for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
6.Cypress Gardens will provide Mr. and Mrs. Baker with 40 annual passes to the park, with an estimated value of $3,000 -- to be used by members of their family. These passes will not have an expiration date, and may be used once. Copies of the transmittal letter and of the passes will be mailed to the Civil Rights Division, to the attention of Marc Dubin, Senior Trial Attorney.
7.The parties understand that nothing contained in this Agreement limits in any way the Department's ability to enforce the ADA against Cypress Gardens in the future should it not be in compliance with the ADA. Failure to enforce any part of this agreement does not limit, in any way, the right of the United States to enforce any other portion of this Agreement. This Agreement does not compromise Cypress Gardens continuing obligation to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
8.This Agreement is a public document. Copies of this document, attachments, exhibits, and any information contained in them may be made available to any person at any time. The Department shall provide copies of these documents to any person upon request.
9.This Agreement fully and accurately reflects the agreement of the signers and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party that is not contained in this written agreement, shall be enforceable.
10.This Agreement shall be effective as of the date set forth below, and it shall be binding on Cypress Gardens and its successors in interest. Cypress Gardens will notify any such successors in interest.
11. This Agreement will be effective as of the date of the last signatory, and shall remain in effect for a period of two years from the effective date.
For Cypress Gardens: For the United States of America:
Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
John L. Woodatch, Chief
Renee Wohlenhaus ,Deputy Chief
Marc Dubin, Senior Trial Attorney
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
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June 16, 2003