Netflix Sued by Deaf Group: No TV Subtitles

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 21, 2011 9:47 AM

Though it is poised to take over the world of in-home entertainment, all is not well in the world of Netflix.

Sued by deaf advocacy group National Association of the Deaf, the purveyor of streaming video and television is being accused of violating the American with Disabilities Act.

According to the lawsuit, the company only offers closed captioning on about 100 of its titles.

The allegations made against Netflix are not new--deaf advocacy organizations have been requesting that it expand subtitles to the entirety of its online library, reports Reuters.

Netflix has always maintained that it is making progress, but is hindered by technological difficulties.

A result of the company's inaction, the lawsuit points to the provision of the ADA that requires public accommodations to provide "full and equal enjoyment" of goods and services, including "places of entertainment and "sales or rental establishments."

This, they say, includes the internet.

As for whether this lawsuit will be successful, it is unknown.

NAD's claims appear to be quite novel, as Netflix itself is a new type of service. Additionally, there is little out there relating the ADA to online services.

However, there have been some successful lawsuits brought against companies on the basis that their websites discriminated against the blind.

For instance, a blind plaintiff in California successfully brought a lawsuit against Target because its website did not function with technology that allows the visually impaired to surf the web.

Whatever the outcome, this is certainly a case to watch. If it goes far, it will shed much-needed light on how companies must integrate online services with obligations under the ADA.

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