Washington, DC — The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), a civil rights organization representing deaf and individuals with hearing loss, announced the filing of a major federal lawsuit against Netflix for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide closed captioning for most of its "Watch Instantly" movies and television streamed on the Internet.
The suit was filed in US District Court, District of Massachusetts, Western Division in Springfield, Mass (Case No. 3:11-cv-30168). News organization CNN was also recently sued for not providing captioning on its Web site videos.
According to the NAD, Netflix has over 60% of the streamed video services market share. The lawsuit states that the deaf community has repeatedly expressed concerns to Netflix via letters, petitions, blogs, and social media about its failure to provide equal access to "Watch Instantly," Netflix’s video streaming service.
"We have tried for years to persuade Netflix to do the right thing and provide equal access to all content across all platforms. They chose not to serve our community on an equal basis; we must have equal access to the biggest provider of streamed entertainment. As Netflix itself acknowledges, streamed video is the future and we must not be left out," said NAD President Bobbie Beth Scoggins.
The ADA requires that all "places of entertainment" provide "full and equal enjoyment" for people with disabilities. Plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that Netflix’s behavior constitutes a violation of Title III of the ADA, and to require that Netflix provide closed captions on all of its streaming content.
In addition to NAD, other plaintiffs include the Western Massachusetts Association of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired (WMAD/HI) and a deaf Massachusetts resident.
The plaintiffs are represented by the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund in Berkeley, Calif; the Oakland, Calif law firm Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson PC; and the Boston law firm Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen, PC.
The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund and NAD ask deaf and hard of hearing individuals who want to learn more about the lawsuit to visit this Web site or call the toll-free number 1-800-348-4232 (V), or email [email protected]