A deaf rights group that sued Netflix to compel it to caption all its video programming has reached a similar deal with Amazon over its streaming video.
Unlike the Netflix settlement, the deal between Amazon and the National Association for the Deaf was negotiated without litigation.
Amazon has already captioned 100 percent of the video it offers through its Prime Video and has agreed to continue to do so. Under the deal with NAD, Amazon will move through its back-catalog content, captioning an additional 190,000 titles which weren't given captions by the content creators.
For videos that have been viewed more than 10 times in the past 90 days, Amazon will get 90 percent of them captioned by the end of this year and 100 percent of them captioned by the end of 2016.
"The NAD is thus thrilled by Amazon’s decision to make its online entertainment experience more accessible to deaf and hard of hearing customers who also look to Amazon to fulfill their needs for comprehensive goods and services," said Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the NAD.
"All content available through Prime Video has been captioned since the beginning of this year and we already offer an extensive selection of captioned content," said Jim Freeman, VP of Amazon Video. "We are happy to partner with NAD to extend captions even deeper into our back catalog of titles."
NAD attorney Namita Gupta said that the group tried to negotiate with Netflix, too, but "they were unwilling" and the negotiations failed. The discussion with Amazon, by contrast, was "amicable from the start," she said.
Gupta said she hopes the Amazon settlement will serve as an example for anyone providing streaming video online. Asked if NAD was considering negotiating for 100 percent compliance from smaller entities who stream video online, through YouTube for instance, Gupta declined to comment.
Harvard and MIT were sued by NAD earlier this year over their online courses, which aren't properly captioned. That case is ongoing. The university defendants have asked the case to be dismissed or stayed (PDF) until the Department of Justice releases its guidelines on when and how websites should be made compliant with the American for Disabilities Act. NAD has opposed that motion, which is fully briefed and could be decided any time.
The DOJ guidelines are needed in part because courts have come out differently on the matter, the universities argue. In Massachusetts, a federal judge allowed the NAD lawsuit against Netflix to move forward. In April, the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled differently, finding that the ADA doesn't apply to Netflix.