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Blind Triathlete Plans To Sue USAT Over “Black Out” Glasses Rule

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Aaron Scheidies plans to file a discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act in U.S. District Court  unless the USAT immediately eliminates the rule.

Aaron Scheidies’ quest for another national championship in the grueling triathlon race is at risk because of a rule requiring the visually impaired athlete to wear “black out” glasses.

Scheidies, 29, of Farmington,  CA, is a professional triathlete with a doctorate in physical therapy and winner of six world championships and seven national ones in triathlon events.

He was hoping to win another U.S. title in the Aug. 7 triathlon in New York City but he and the other 30 visually impaired or blind athletes who compete in his category, TRI 6, have seen their hopes darkened by the black out glasses rule passed by the governing body, USA Triathlon of Colorado Springs, Colo., in March 2010.

The rule requires them to wear “black out glasses” during the running part of a triathlon, leaving them completely in the dark by eliminating any visual perception they might retain.

“This is absurd,” said Farmington Hills attorney Richard Bernstein, who also is blind, a marathon runner and a triathlete.

Bernstein plans to file a discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act in U.S. District Court on Scheidies’ behalf against USA Triathlon unless the organization immediately eliminates the rule. Scheidies is not seeking monetary damages.

“Taking away the little vision anyone has left by making them wear ‘black out’ glasses is dangerous, absurd and undoubtedly illegal,” Bernstein said. “It certainly is no accommodation.”

Read more: Oakland Press