A class-action lawsuit was filed against Gimlet Media (a podcast division inside of Spotify) for lack of accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The plaintiff, Kahlimah Jones, argues that Gimlet Media violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to provide closed captioning on various podcasts.
Accessibility advocates and community members may find this lawsuit familiar in many aspects. Jones has filed over a dozen ADA lawsuits over the past few years, including suits against Home Depot, Walmart, and Lowe’s. The one thing that’s different, this time? This is the first lawsuit we’ve seen focused on podcast accessibility! We’re guessing it won’t be the last.
About the Lawsuit
The Plaintiff, Kahlimah Jones, is a deaf individual, who according to the lawsuit, was interested in listening to podcasts on several different topics. Upon browsing the website, Jones came across “numerous access barriers” preventing her from independently listening to the podcasts. Namely, there were no captions or transcripts provided.
This complaint seeks measures necessary to ensure compliance with federal and state law as well as monitoring, to update and remove accessibility issues and barriers.
What the Gimlet Lawsuit Means for Podcasts
ADA lawsuits have been on the rise over recent years, yet somehow, podcasts have flown under the radar for quite some time. This lawsuit, which is the first to focus on the accessibility of podcasts, could signal the beginning of the end of that.
As people rely more heavily on remote and digital access, particularly in the time of COVID-19, web accessibility has become more apparent to all users. Many individuals are engaging with transcripts and captions, and seeing the benefit of these tools.
If you produce or host a podcast on your website, we recommend taking some time to make sure it’s accessible to everyone. Not only is it a matter of legal compliance, but with over 360 million people with hearing loss worldwide, you could be turning away tons of potential listeners.
Why Transcribe Podcasts
Podcasts are audio-based streaming programs, like talk radio, that are typically broken down into episodes, and sometimes even seasons. Because podcasts are audio-only they can sometimes include sound effects and music to help set the scene and engage the audience.
Podcasts, which are purely audio-based, can be quite inaccessible to those with hearing loss. Transcripts help make content more accessible, searchable, shareable, and digestible… particularly when it comes to podcasts. Not only is adding transcripts to your podcasts a must for equal access, but it also comes with a lot of additional benefits, including:
- Getting more out of each episode
- Boosting search engine optimization
- Being easily quoted and credited
- Providing a better user experience
There are currently 850,000 active podcasts and over 30 million podcast episodes, according to Podcast Insights, and this content needs to be accessible. In 2019, more than half of all US consumers above the age of 12 were listening to podcasts. Failing to provide transcripts for this content creates barriers to those with hearing loss and can cause you to lose out on many potential listeners.
Transcripts make your audio & video content accessible, searchable, & engaging. Learn more about transcription solutions for your podcast today.