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Illustration by Max Fleishman (CC-BY)

It's a big win for the National Association for the Deaf.

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BY TODD LONGWELL

Hulu announced on Wednesday that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) that calls for the streaming service to provide closed captioning for all of its full-length English and Spanish content by September 2017.

“Captioning is another type of control consumers can—rightfully— expect and enjoy,” said Arlene Mayerson, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund’s directing attorney representing NAD, in a statement. “Hulu’s actions and commitment to making its media accessible to deaf and hard of hearing subscribers demonstrates that it is possible to fully integrate the deaf and hard of hearing community into the online entertainment marketplace.”

In 2011, NAD filed suit against Netflix, charging that the streaming service violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide closed captioning for most of its content.

“We have tried for years to persuade Netflix to do the right thing and provide equal access to all content across all platforms,” said then-NAD president Bobbie Beth Scoggins. “They chose not to serve our community on an equal basis; we must have equal access to the biggest provider of streamed entertainment. As Netflix itself acknowledges, streamed video is the future and we must not be left out.”

In 2012, Netflix settled with NAD, agreeing to caption all of its content by the year 2014 and pay NAD’s $750,000 in legal fees.

Under the terms of NAD’s agreement with Hulu, all captions on Hulu content will be consistent with Federal Communications Commission standards for completeness, accuracy, synchronicity, and placement. Hulu will also continue to improve viewers’ ability to search for closed captioned content without having to click on each title to determine whether it is available with closed captions.

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