A proposed class action alleges SiriusXM, Stitcher and Pandora have unlawfully excluded the deaf and hard-of-hearing community from their streaming platforms by failing to provide transcripts for the “vast majority” of podcast content.
The 36-page lawsuit, filed by the non-profit National Association of the Deaf and five other plaintiffs, alleges SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher have failed to provide podcast transcripts despite the fact that it is “relatively simple to do so,” in particular given much of the transcription work can be done through automated speech recognition technology. Although some third-party podcast creators provide transcripts of their content, deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals often have to go to a creator’s independent website outside of the defendants’ platforms in order to locate them, creating considerable additional work just to consume a podcast, the suit says.
“Defendants’ failures to provide transcripts of their podcasts excludes deaf and hard-of-hearing persons from the critical sources of news, entertainment, educational programs, and popular culture that Defendants make available to their hearing customers, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (‘ADA’), the New York State Human Rights Law (‘NYSHRL’), and the New York City Human Rights Law (‘NYCHRL’),” the complaint alleges.
Podcast content that can be found on SiriusXM’s platform includes interviews with celebrities such as comedian Kevin Hart and the original series Marvel Wastelanders Old Man Star-Lord, while Stitcher, the top podcast publisher in the country, boasts the Peabody award nominee Unfinished: Deep South, as well as Time For My Stories and Hollywood Masterclass, the lawsuit says. Pandora, the suit says, boasts thousands of shows that include some hosted on SiriusXM and Stitcher’s platforms. Each defendant provides access to third-party content in addition to their original and exclusive podcasts, the suit adds.
Despite the defendants providing hearing customers a one-stop-shop for exploring, downloading and listening to podcasts, deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, the lawsuit alleges, are afforded no such access given transcripts do not exist for “nearly all of the original and third-party podcast content” on each platform.
“Indeed, Defendants’ failures clearly ignore the mandates of the ADA, which requires companies that provide their services to the general public to provide these services in a manner that is accessible to people with disabilities,” the complaint reads.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants’ failure to provide transcripts for most of their podcast content affects roughly 48 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing. The case contends that the plaintiffs “attempted to resolve this matter without a lawsuit but were unable to obtain sufficient commitments from Defendants to remedy these barriers to full and equal access.”
Get class action lawsuit news sent to your inbox – sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter here.
Camp Lejeune residents may soon have the opportunity to claim compensation for harm suffered from contaminated water.