Burning Man is being sued by two deaf California men who say the annual celebration of art and radical community has failed to accommodate the needs of the hearing impaired.
The men say they want Burning Man “to cease unlawful discriminatory practices and implement policies and procedures that will ensure effective communication, full and equal enjoyment, and a meaningful opportunity to participate in and benefit from [Burning Man] services,” according to their complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco.
The complaint was triggered by Burning Man’s decision in 2017 to stop providing American Sign Language interpreters for deaf participants. One of the men who filed the suit said he asked the festival earlier this year to hire him as a deaf interpreter.
A festival organizer responded by citing two of Burning Man’s organizing principles: radical self-reliance and communal effort, according to the complaint. “Through these guiding principles,” the organizer wrote, “we encourage our participants to rely on their own resources in discovering Black Rock City.”
Representatives of Burning Man didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. This year’s festival kicks off Aug. 25 in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and the art theme is metamorphoses.