Federal law bars any sort of “retaliation” or discrimination against those with disabilities who seek aid in a public place.
The PR Society of America has told this writer, who has a hearing disability, that he will not be allowed to cover sessions of the annual conference starting Sunday, Oct. 17, unless I pay the full fee of $1,275. The conference is at the Washington Hilton which says it takes ADA compliance “very seriously.”
Coverage of the Assembly Oct. 16 would be allowed by us and hearing assistance has been promised.
Scott Van Camp, editor of PR News, told us that he has accepted free registration to the full conference running from Oct. 17-19. Steve Barrett, editor of PR Week U.S., said PRW will not cover the conference if there are any charges. PRW does not pay to cover events, he said.
PRSA VP-PR Arthur Yann, said in an e-mail to us that media requests are considered on a “case by case basis” and if PRW asks for press credentials, it will be considered.
ADA Requires Non-Discrimination
Lawyers familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act said that the law applies to an “entire conference” and that once hearing assistance is given to one part of a conference, it must be given to the rest of the meeting.
They also said it appears to be illegal for the PR Society to grant one trade press reporter credentials but to deny it to another with no good reason given.