The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) posted a release titled: “Lawsuit Challenges Inaccessibility of Major Podcast Platforms.” From the release:
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) have filed a lawsuit against three major providers of podcasts, SiriusXM, Stitcher, and Pandora, to end their exclusion of deaf and hard of hearing Americans from each company’s extensive podcast streaming service.
Sirius XM bills itself as the “new destination for original, exclusive, and popular podcasts,” providing customers access to a slate of both original and third-party podcast content, including exclusive access to podcasts produced by Marvel Entertainment.
Stitcher ranked #1 in Triton Digital’s Report of top Podcast Networks for August 2021, with 451 active original podcast. Likewise, Pandora’s podcast service offers users access to hundreds of thousands of podcast episodes. Yet none of these multimillion-dollar companies provides transcripts for the plethora of podcasts available on their popular mobile applications.
Because Defendants do not make transcripts or captions available for any of the podcasts offered on their platforms, more than 48 million deaf and hard of hearing Americans are denied full and equal enjoyment of the content they offer hearing users. These failures to provide equal access violate the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as state and local New York law.
The NAD and five deaf Americans who wish to use each of Defendants’ podcast services but are excluded from doing so brought this action to end SiriusXM’s, Stitchers, and Pandora’s discriminatory business practices.
Howard A. Rosenbaum, CEO of NAD, said, “Podcasts are the latest form of entertainment, and it is imperative that deaf and hard of hearing people not be left behind. SiriusXM, Stitcher, and Pandora have a duty under federal, state, and city laws to ensure their podcasts are fully accessible.”
Plaintiff Mei Nishimoto said, “I want all podcasts to be accessible for myself, because I love to learn, and as a Deaf parent with a school-aged child, I need to screen what is appropriate for her age and interests, and advance her education.”
Plaintiff Dr. Amber Martin said, “Access to information and entertainment is as interesting and important to deaf and hard of hearing people as it is to others. There have been many times when someone told me about something they heard on a podcast that sparked my interest but there was no transcript. It’s disappointing not to be able to participate in the conversations with friends, but especially frustrating to know that I’m locked out of a lot of information I’d like to have.”
Plaintiff Jamie Munro said, “Podcasts are now ubiquitous and serves as a wealth of information to everyone, except the deaf community. We cannot be excluded again and must have full access to knowledge that is already readily available to everyone else.”
Plaintiff Rebecca Alexander stated, “Requesting accommodations is not asking to be given information out of privilege. Having equal access to information, including from podcasts, is a fundamental civil right. I am also concerned about being precluded from a platform that has important commentary from people, myself included, because of inaccessibility.”
DRA staff attorney Emily Seelenfreund said, “SiriusXM, Stitcher and Pandora’s complete failure to consider access for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing is an embarrassment and an abject violation of federal and local disability law.