Ninth Circuit says CNN.com didn’t intentionally discriminate against hearing-impaired
Three judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California recently ruled in a court case between CNN.com and GLAD (Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness) that CNN.com’s not having closed captioning for all of their online videos is legal, as it does not demonstrate intentional discrimination based on disability. In June 2011, GLAD filed a lawsuit against CNN.com for not providing closed captioning for all of its online videos. GLAD had requested that Time Warner provide captioning for all the videos on all of its websites, which includes CNN.com. In response to the request, CNN.com stated that they already feature several text-based services and would include “whatever web access” the federal rules required of them. In their lawsuit, GLAD claimed CNN.com violated the Unruh Act (California law that outlaws discrimination of many types, including based on disability or medical condition) and the DPA (Disabled Persons Act) by intentionally excluding deaf and hard of hearing visitors from accessing the videos on CNN.com. The case was then appealed by CNN.com on the basis of California’s Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute.
In March 2014, the appeals court decided CNN.com did not show intention to discriminate against the deaf and hard of hearing community. However, the California Supreme Court will later discuss and decide whether the DPA (Disabled Person’s Act) applies to websites in addition to person-to-person interactions.
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