SiriusXM sued over lack of podcast transcripts for the hard of hearing

Advocacy groups are demanding both compensation and mandatory changes.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for SiriusXM

SiriusXM has been accused of doing too little to make its podcasts accessible. The National Association of the Deaf and Disability Rights Advocates have filed a lawsuit against SiriusXM (including its Pandora and Stitcher brands) accusing it of excluding the deaf and hard of hearing by failing to provide captions or transcripts for any podcasts. The company has allegedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York laws by denying equal access to its content.

The suit demands both damages and an injunction to force SiriusXM to offer podcast transcripts. The company would also have to "affirmatively" advertise the transcript option to deaf and hard of hearing people.

We've asked SiriusXM for comment. The lawsuit notably doesn't include other heavyweights, although Apple and Spotify already offer at least some form of captioning or transcription. Spotify has promised to auto-transcribe all podcasts, for instance. In a statement to The Verge, DRA's Christina Brandt-Young added the organizations couldn't sue "every bad podcast provider" in a single lawsuit. You may well see more complaints in the future.

The lawsuit is, effectively, a request for podcasts service operators to rethink accessibility. NAD and DRA want equal access to be a given, not a nice-to-have extra. In theory, the pressure on SiriusXM will prompt better treatment across the wider podcast industry.