Deaf Group Wants Court to Hear Complaints Against Netflix

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June 20, 2011; Source: | Last week we heard about a lawsuit being brought against Time Warner because its CNN subsidiary does not put captions on news videos posted to the Internet. Activists for the deaf have struck again, and this time the target is Netflix.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has filed suit against the company in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, claiming that because Netflix does not provide captions for a large number of movies and TV shows that it streams to subscribers over the Internet it is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to, the NAD says it has tried to get Netflix to address this problem "via letters, blogs, and petitions." In a statement, the group's president said Neflix has "chosen not to serve our community on an equal basis."

The lawsuit seeks to ensure that the "biggest provider of streamed entertainment" makes its content accessible to Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing. Netflix claims it is working to add captions to its streaming videos. CNET reports that last February, Neil Hunt, the company's chief product officer, posted a blog that said Netflix was working to boost the number titles with captions from 30 percent to 80 percent by year's end.

Earlier Hunt had written that because of technical challenges the company couldn't add the captions any faster. NAD dismisses that argument in it lawsuit saying that the process of captioning is both "technically possible and relatively simple to achieve."—Bruce Trachtenberg