Deaf Nudist Files Federal Complaint After Being Denied an Interpreter

Claims nudists violated Americans with Disabilities Act

By Greg Wilson
|  Thursday, Aug 11, 2011  |  Updated 12:26 PM PDT
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A deaf nudist has filed a complaint with the feds because organizers of a New York festival didn't provide him with a sign language interpreter.

Tom Willard, 53, of Rochester, took his beef with Empire Haven Nudist Park to the U.S. Justice Department claiming it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying him an interpreter.

"I am fed up with being turned away every time I try to do something, by idiots who somehow feel the ADA does not apply to them," Willard wrote in the complaint, filed July 19.

The ADA law indeed requires businesses and nonprofit groups to provide free interpreters, according to Reuters. First-time violations can lead to fines of up to $55,000.

Willard said he was told by a board member of the Naturist Society in 2009 that he could hire his own interpreter. But he said the board member denied his request that he and the interpreter attend the event for free. The six-day event cost about $150 per person.

"I hate that I have to go through these experiences and subject myself to ridicule and derision, but the alternative is to stay home and never try to do anything in the world," Willard told Reuters.

Empire Haven is a 97-acre park in New York's Finger Lakes region, that bills itself as a family-oriented nudist park.

A spokeswoman for Empire Haven was not available for comment, and Morley Schloss, the Naturist Society board member contacted by Willard, did not respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

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