SiriusXM is currently facing a suit by the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) as well as the Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) for not providing captioning and transcripts for “the large majority” of its podcasts. In the lawsuit, SiriusXM as well as its affiliates Pandora as well as Stitcher violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as New York state law for not making their podcasts accessible to Deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
“Defendants have not provided the transcripts for their shows excludes deaf or hard-of-hearing people from the most important sources of entertainment, news and educational programs as well as a popular culture that they provide to their customers who are hearing impaired and violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the New York State Human Rights Law as well as the New York City Human Rights Law,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit states that the ADA obliges companies that provide services for the general public to be required to offer the services in a way that is accessible for people who are disabled.
The lawsuit doesn’t mention Spotify as the creator of several of the most popular podcasts, such as the Joe Rogan Experience. Spotify isn’t yet able to provide an audio transcript of the show (although certain third-party apps do provide transcripts). The company announced in May that Spotify declared that it will begin auto-transcription of certain of its own shows in hopes of eventually making transcripts available for all of its podcasts.
“We aren’t able to take on every bad podcast service in a single suit and we had to begin somewhere, but it’s essential for deaf and hard of hearing people that transcripts are made available across every podcast platform,” Christina Brandt-Young of DRA wrote via an email sent to The Verge. “It’s extremely troubling to us that even when creators of podcasts provide their transcripts elsewhere (like certain podcasts published by The New York Times), SiriusXM, Stitcher and Pandora do not offer them via their platforms, which makes our customers have to work twice as hard to access the same information that everyone receives.”
She said transcripts are simple to make available, “and these are multimillion-dollar businesses. It’s time to be honest and post transcripts of podcasts on their sites and apps.”
The suit seeks compensation for unspecified damages as well as an injunction to require the podcast companies to provide transcripts of every podcast they produce and to “affirmatively promote the accessibility of transcripts to deaf or hard-of-hearing” individuals.