National Association of the Deaf et al. v. Netflix, Inc.

Lewis Feinberg is proud to have represented the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the Western Massachusetts Association of the Deaf and Hearing Impaired (WMAD-HI), and individual plaintiff Lee Nettles in a lawsuit against Netflix for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (National Association of the Deaf v. Netflix)

Approximately 36 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing. Just as buildings without ramps prevent full access for people who use wheelchairs, television without captions excludes many deaf and hard of hearing individuals. For Plaintiff Lee Nettles and the members of NAD and WMAD-HI, it was frustrating and isolating not to have full access to the popular Netflix service and other internet content.

Netflix contended that it was not required to provide the accommodations required by the ADA, but the federal district court for the Western District of Massachusetts disagreed. In an important ruling, the court held that the ADA indeed applies to website-only businesses.

Ultimately, Netflix agreed to provide closed captions on 100 percent of its streaming content within two years. Netflix also agreed to improve its interface so that subscribers could more easily identify content that was already captioned. This agreement is a model of accessibility for the streaming entertainment industry.

Lewis Feinberg’sBill Lann Lee,Catha Worthman, andJoshua Davidsonrepresented the Plaintiffs along with co-counsel Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), and Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen.