GBDH and co-counsel Disability Rights Advocates, representing The Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (“GLAD”) and three deaf individuals, filed a class action complaint in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of people with hearing loss. The suit alleges that Time Warner Inc., the owner of CNN.com discriminates against people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing by failing to provide any captioning of its on-line videos on its website. The suit is the first of its kind in the country.
The Internet has revolutionized the speed of reporting and the ability to access news information. Within hours of a story breaking, videos are posted on news websites allowing the public to access critical information. Yet, CNN.com one of the largest media and entertainment companies in the world, refuses to provide any captioning of its on-line videos, excluding the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities from accessing video news content on its website.
Captioning displays dialogue, and may also identify who is speaking and include non-speech information conveyed through sound, such as sound effects, music and laughter. Currently, broadcast and cable television content must be closed captioned under federal communications law. There is readily available technology that would enable on-line news sites to provide similar closed captions. Captioning can be provided as an option for deaf and hard- of-hearing visitors to CNN.com without interfering with the experience of non-disabled website visitors.
The lawsuit alleges that by refusing to caption the videos on CNN.com, Time Warner has violated California’s anti-discrimination statutes: the Unruh Civil Rights Act and Disabled Persons Act.