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Judge: Disabilities Act Applies Online Too


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Knocking down arguments from Internet movie giant Netflix, a federal judge ruled this week that websites are subject to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The decision from U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor in Springfield, Mass. comes in a case pitting disability advocates against Netflix.

Advocates alleged that the company operates in violation of the ADA because many movies and TV shows offered through Netflix’s streaming service are not captioned, making them inaccessible to those who are hearing impaired.

Attorneys for Netflix argued that the company’s offerings are exempt from the ADA and asked for the case to be dismissed. In rejecting that argument, Ponsor’s ruling paves the way for the lawsuit to proceed.

Despite the ruling, legal experts said the issue of whether or not the Internet counts as a “place” subject to ADA protections is far from decided. Courts in various jurisdictions across the country have ruled differently on the matter and it very well could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, reports The Boston Globe. To read more click here.

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Comments (6 Responses)

  1. Jennifer Woodside says:

    Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that businesses and nonprofit services providers make accessibility accommodations to enable the disabled public to access the same services as clients who are not disabled. This includes electronic media and web sites.

    This is a 2T market that includes over 1B on Earth and increasing daily. Not profitable? Think of the Boomers, and everyone else, who will benefit from closed captioning and descriptive captioning in the coming years!

    Jennifer Woodside, President, The Disability Training Alliance.

  2. Brian Bishoff says:

    If you click through to the article you will find that it only costs $200 to $800 to close caption a film and there are literally millions of potential hearing impaired customers that Netflix could be serving and making $$ from.

  3. Hermine Willey says:

    Captioning provides information access for Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing and late deafened people. It also provides an accommodation for those learning English as their second language and children’s ability to read.

  4. Sue Keller says:

    This reminds me of the similar argument that special education is not a place but services that go with the child.

    Netflix needs to stop being so anti-disability and man up and do the right thing. How much money will being accessible actually cost them?

  5. Sue Keller says:

    “Dear Netflix, did you know about 20% of the US population is disabled? And they are related to the other 80% of us? Now, why do you want to alienate your customer base by refusing to make Netflix offerings accessible to people who are deaf/hard of hearing? This is not just bad business….it’s narrow-minded and hard-hearted.”

  6. Deb Hemgesberg says:

    As a deaf person (late deafened individual) Without captions, I can no longer access video media of any kind. I am still employed full time and make a decent wage. When commercials and other media formats are not captioned, I make a note for when I do shop. I have no desire to support businessed who do not care to support me. Captions will be necessary for all late deafened adults, simply becauae ASL is a whole other language. It is inconceivable that we would expect our elders to learn a language to participate in our world. I want all of the world accessible to me, not jsut what someone else arbitrarly decides FOR me. NOTHING ABOUT ME WITHOUT ME

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