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Disability Action Center NW

U.S. and Metropolitan Opera settle wheelchair lawsuit

(Reuters) – The U.S. government and New York’s Metropolitan Opera settled a lawsuit on wheelchair access less than an hour after it was filed on Thursday when the Met agreed to conform with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Federal prosecutors had sued the famed opera house but settled after the Met agreed to install additional wheelchair and companion seating, renovate its restrooms, install Braille signs and add more wheelchair-accessible drinking fountains.

“The comprehensive measures agreed by the Met ensure that people with disabilities will have an equal opportunity to enjoy the performances offered by one of New York’s finest cultural institutions,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

The opera, housed in Manhattan’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, also lacked a visual alarm system required by law for the hearing-impaired, the suit said.

The settlement requires the Met to eliminate remaining obstacles to movement for the disabled and ensure seats are reserved for wheelchair-bound opera fans.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on disability.

Since the ADA’s passage, several New York City landmarks have faced court orders to make appropriate modifications to their structures including Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden and the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

The Metropolitan Opera, founded in 1880, is America’s largest classical music organization and presents more than 20 operas each year.