Legally Blind Athlete Sues Triathlon Organizations



By, Corina Cappabianca

A Legally blind, seven-time triathlon World Champion winner is suing three organizations for requiring him to wear “black out glasses” during competitions.

Aaron Scheidies, the 30-year-old Detroit athlete and plaintiff in the case believes that requiring all participants to wear such glasses, designed to make someone completely impaired is discriminatory.

According to his website, Scheidies, was born with a hereditary eye condition, which has left him with “20% of the vision of a fully sighted person.”

Scheidies’s blind attorney for the case, Richard Bernstein, who filed suit on Wednesday writes, “Unlike an individual who is totally blind, a person who is visually impaired or legally blind like Plaintiff, uses their residual vision and is not trained or adjusted to engage in physical activities without sight.” Bernstein argues that wearing the glasses is “not suitable for the Plaintiff” and could put him “in grave physical danger.”

Bernstein is making the case that International Triathlon Union, USA Triathlon, and 3-D Racing have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 designed to prohibit disability discrimination. Although the organizations are private, races take place in areas of “public accommodation.”

In the past, triathlons have been divided based on levels of impairment. However, since 2010, International Triathlon Union, USA Triathlon, and 3-D Racing have grouped all competitors into one level regardless of impairment.

In addition to his World Championships, Scheidies is an eight-time National Champion, and has competed in about 200 triathlons worldwide. He was also a finalist for a 2011 ESPN ESPY Award for “Best Athlete with a Disability.”

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