I am not “daredevil.” Often that is the first reaction I get when it comes out that I am (1) blind and (2) an attorney. There are way worse people to be compared to than a crime-fighting superhero, but I assure you the similarity ends at “blind” and “lawyer.” I have a good reason for bringing up comic book characters, and will come back to it shortly. First, though, a few words to introduce myself and my practice.
My name is Josh Loevy, and as of this posting, I am the newest attorney at Loevy and Loevy. I am here because I believe strongly in the firm’s mission of helping those who have had their rights violated and lives upended. But I am also here to take that mission to a new place. Over the coming months, I will work to build a Disabled Rights practice that brings the firm’s values and skills to work on behalf of the disabled. This is a very personal struggle to me. Not to beat you over the head with it, but I have been visually impaired for all my life, and nearly blind for over twenty years.
Disability Law is complex and wide-ranging. It touches so many areas of everyday life. It governs the way our children are educated, the way we travel, the way we vote. It protects our right to work, our access to entertainment and our treatment by law enforcement. In short, nearly every area of our lives is touched by some piece of law designed to protect the disabled individual’s ability to be treated equally by society.
A quick word on how I joined this fight. Obviously, it has been a personal one to me for most of my life. Strangely enough, my first true brush with advocacy for my rights as a disabled person came about when Netflix released Daredevil as a TV drama. I was astonished that the program, (about a blind lawyer, mind you) did not offer audio description, a technology service for blind viewers that gives a play by play of the non-verbal action happening within the show or movie. Individuals had been demanding this accommodation of Netflix and other streaming services for years with no result but it added insult to injury that it was not available for a show where even the main character is blind.
The federal government already requires TV networks to provide a set number of described programming each year, but as often is the case, the law has not yet caught up with technology. I, and many others, contacted print and TV journalists to voice our frustration. After weeks of public pressure, Netflix announced Daredevil, and it’s other original programing, would be offered with audio description going forward.
This small victory, while gratifying, was just that: a small victory. Often organizations are unwilling to yield to public pressure. They are unwilling to do the right thing, let alone that it is legally required, on their own. In those cases, it falls on the legal system to help ensure equal treatment and participation for disabled individuals.
This is the objective for the Disability Project at Loevy & Loevy. We will seek to protect the rights of disabled individuals to fair treatment under the law, and full participation in society. Over the coming weeks, I will be writing about some of the substantive rights disabled persons are guaranteed under the law and constitution. Among these topics, I will discuss the rights of disabled persons in custody under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the right to access public accommodations, voting rights, and education rights, just to state a few topics. I hope to help individuals with disabilities realize that fair treatment is not a courtesy, but an iron clad right. I look forward to stringing victories, big and small, together; to carry on the fight for equality and justice.