ACB, et al. v. Hulu LLC
Beginning in November 2017, Disability Rights Advocates and the Disability Law Center, Inc.represented the American Council of the Blind,Bay State Council of the Blind, and two individuals in litigation against Hulu, LLC to address the video streaming company’s failure to provide audio description and failure to maintain a website and applications that are accessible via screen readers. On October 8, 2018, the Parties reached an agreement to ensure Hulu’s accessibility and settle the federal case.
Hulu, one of the largest online-streaming services in the country, offers thousands of shows and movies to over 20 million subscribers across the nation. However, when the lawsuit was filed none of the company’s streaming content included audio description—a separate audio track that, between portions of dialogue or songs, narrates the key visual elements of video content, providing blind and low vision users a full media experience. In addition, Hulu’s website and mobile applications have not provided adequate access to individuals who use screen readers. The commitments that Hulu has made under this agreement will bring it in line with other industry leaders, such as Netflix, which have already taken steps to provide audio description. Pursuant to this settlement, Hulu will:
- bring its website and applications into compliance with internationally recognized accessibility standards by January 2020
- implement written policies and procedures to ensure that website and application updates meet accessibility standards and are tested for screen-reader usability prior to release
- triage accessibility-related problems and bugs in a manner consistent with equivalent losses of function that are unrelated to accessibility
- train customer service representatives regarding the provision of assistance to Hulu users who use screen-reading technology
- add an accessibility-specific page to the Hulu website that contains information such as customer service contact information, recommended web browsers, and instructions for reporting screen-reader access barriers
- obtain audio description for content licensed from third parties in all cases where it is commercially reasonable and provide audio description on content for which Hulu controls the necessary rights to do so
- add controls to activate and deactivate audio description where available
- enable users to search and filter the streaming library based on the availability of audio description
To learn more about audio description, visit ACB’s Audio Description Project.
Disability: Blind/Low Vision
Case Area: Private Business, Technology