Coalition Sues Hulu

A coalition of blind and visually impaired advocates has sued streamer Hulu over the company’s alleged failure to provide audio descriptions for its content.

The coalition filed a nationwide class action on November 20 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The plaintiffs stated that Hulu’s failure to offer “a separate audio track that blind and visually impaired people need in order to access the exclusively visual content of a show or movie—for any streaming videos” – constitutes a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The suit also claims that Hulu’s “website and applications are not accessible to blind and visually impaired individuals who use screen readers to navigate the internet.” Such software “converts the visually displayed content on the screen into audible, synthesized speech or outputs that information on a digital braille display.”

TellMe TV, a streamer designed specifically for the visually impaired, features audio description which “narrates on-screen action in between lines of dialog so people living with vision loss can fully experience the scenery, facial expressions and other visual elements of a show or film that aren’t communicated by listening just to the soundtrack.”

The American Council of the Blind, Bay State Council of the Blind, and blind individuals who brought the action are represented by the Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national nonprofit legal center, and the Disability Law Center (DLC), Massachusetts’ Protection and Advocacy system.

“BSCB members have been expressing their concerns about Hulu’s lack of audio description for years now,” said Brian Charlson, president of Bay State Council of the Blind, “and it is time that Hulu join with other industry streaming services out there and meet its obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

The plaintiffs said they aren’t seeking monetary damages, just equal access to Hulu’s services.

You can read more about the lawsuit at dralegal.org.

About Larry Greenberg

A former local beat reporter and film critic, co-founder Lawrence Greenberg has more than 25 years’ experience as a writer and public relations executive.

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