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With a big Emmy win and a live television service still making waves in streaming, Hulu has had a solid year. While the service has certainly stepped up its game in terms of offerings for its subscribers, it's now being sued by customers and advocacy groups for something that it lacks. Specifically, these groups are suing Hulu in an effort to force the company to add descriptive audio tracks to films and television shows so that those that are blind or visually impaired are able to better utilize the service.
The lawsuit, which was filed by the American Council of the Blind, Bay State Council of the Blind, and a blind Massachusetts couple, asks the courts to recognize Hulu's failure to add the service a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The group also states that the lawsuit comes following repeated requests asking Hulu to add the service, which obviously it has not fulfilled. Descriptive audio tracks, which describe visual cues or moments of silence on screen, greatly help a visually impaired audience enjoy the same type of media most people do and are commonplace amongst most major movie companies and television shows. NBC News 3 reported the service is available for some films and television shows currently on the service, but not due to Hulu adding them.
Additionally, the lawsuit seeks to make sure Hulu makes its app and website accessible to Screen Readers, which is another vital tool for the visually impaired. Screen Readers take the text seen on a digital screen and translate that text to braille or read the screen aloud via audio. Compared to competitors like Netflix, Hulu is really lacking in terms of services it offers to the blind and the visually impaired.
That said, Netflix's increased offerings came about very much the same way as the current situation Hulu is in. While Netflix first introduced audio description service in 2015 with Daredevil, a settlement was reached last year with advocacy groups that led to the streaming giant offering the service for most of its original titles and several films and television shows. If this lawsuit against Hulu is successful, hopefully, things will develop in the same way.
As the weeks wind down in 2017, be sure to visit CinemaBlend's fall premiere guide to see what else is on tap television wise for the rest of the year and check Hulu to catch up on any shows that may have slipped through the cracks. For a look ahead at 2018 and all the shows that will be appearing in the new year, head on over to our midseason premiere guide. For a look at some shows that weren't able to get out of 2017 with a new season, visit our cancellation guide.