SiriusXM is facing a lawsuit from the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) and the Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) for failing to provide captioning and transcripts for “the vast majority” of its podcasts. According to the complaint, SiriusXM and its subsidiaries Pandora and Stitcher are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and New York state law for failing to make their podcast streams accessible for Deaf and hard-of-hearing users.
“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, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit notes that the ADA requires companies providing services to the general public are expected to provide the services in a manner accessible to people with disabilities.
The lawsuit does not name Spotify, producer of some of the most well-known podcasts, including The Joe Rogan Experience. Spotify doesn’t yet provide a transcript for Rogan’s shows (although some third-party apps provide transcripts). In May, Spotify announced it would begin auto-transcribing some of its original shows, with the aim of eventually enabling transcripts across all its podcasts.
“We can’t sue every bad podcast provider in a single lawsuit and had to start somewhere, but it is important to deaf and hard of hearing users that transcripts be provided across all podcast platforms,” Christina Brandt-Young of DRA said in an email to The Verge. “It’s deeply concerning to us that even when the authors of podcasts make their transcripts available elsewhere (like some podcasts from the New York Times), SiriusXM, Stitcher, and Pandora don’t provide them through their services, making our clients work twice as hard to get the same information everyone else gets.”
She noted that transcripts are easy to provide, “and these are multimillion-dollar companies. It’s time for them to do the right thing and provide podcast transcripts on their websites and apps.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages and an injunction requiring the companies to provide transcripts for all their podcast content and to “affirmatively market the availability of transcripts to deaf and hard-of-hearing” people.
Sirius XM didn’t respond to requests for comment from The Verge on Tuesday.