In what could be a warning to all podcast networks, and a boost for audio transcription services, the National Association of the Deaf has sued SiriusXM for failing to provide transcripts of podcasts published by flagship SiriusXM, and by subsidiaries Stitcher and Pandora.
SiriusXM evidently is targeted as a ranking leader, and its capitalization: “Stitcher ranked #1 in Triton Digital’s Report of top Podcast Networks for August 2021, with 451 active original podcasts. 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.”
The association counts 48-million deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the U.S. Legally, the argued point is that SiriusXM is failing to provide equal access as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, and in state and local New York law.
The NAD shares ownership of the case with “five deaf Americans.”
While suing a podcast publisher for not providing transcripts, which might seem like an optional business decision, might seem dubious, the NAD similarly sued Netflix for failing to provide closed captioning. A federal district court declined Netflix’s petition to dismiss that case in 2012.
Howard A. Rosenblum, CEO of the 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.”