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Major Accessibility Lawsuits: Some Key Takeaways

The Rehabilitation Act (1973) and the American with Disabilities Act (1990) have been the gatekeepers of inclusion and accessibility for decades now. You must be thinking – if these federal laws were passed before the web and streaming media became mainstream, can they still be relevant in ensuring accessibility in such spaces?

Fortunately, laws tend to evolve with the changing demands of society. For example, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (an amendment) rules that all information and communication technology used, procured, and disseminated by the federal government and its agencies (including federal-funded educational institutions) should follow accessibility guidelines, that is, this information should not exclude individuals with disabilities (1 in 5 people in the US have some form of disability). Moreover, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) seeks to prevent discrimination by making “places of public accommodation” accessible to people with disabilities. A law complementary to the ADA is CVAA, which was passed on October 2010 and mandated the updation of anti-discriminatory guidelines to include compliance regulations for all aspects of modern technology

Let’s look at how major accessibility lawsuits are changing the landscape for inclusivity on the web.

1. The National Association of the Deaf v. Netflix

According to CNBC’s All-American Economic Survey, 51% of American media streamers subscribe to Netflix, which pushes it in the domain of  “a place of public accommodation.” In 2010, the National Association of the Deaf sued the streaming giant for failing to caption its “Watch Instantly” movies and TV shows. They alleged that Netflix was in violation of the Title III of the ADA, pointing to the 36 million Americans who are deaf or some hearing disability. Previously, they had petitioned through blogs and letters to persuade Netflix to caption these content.

Netflix tried to leverage the fact the CVAA  had not passed its deadline, making it non-obligatory for Netflix to include closed captions for their “Watch Instantly” content. However, the presiding judge of the case made a landmark ruling, and Netflix settled with the following legally binding decree: that they would caption 80% of their content by 200 and 100% of their content by 2014.

2.  Amazon Video

While Netflix was “unwilling” to comply to the NAD’s request before the lawsuit, Amazon Video was a little more agreeable in making entertainment on their platform accessible (and without a lawsuit in this case). As a result, they captioned all content available through Prime Video in 2015 and agreed to caption 100% of the uncaptioned 1,90,000 titles on their platform by the end of 2016.

NAD attorney Namita Gupta stated that the Amazon settlement would hopefully convince potential media streamers to close caption their content to boost accessibility. Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the NAD, also commented that “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.”

3. The American Council of the Blind et al. v. Hulu

American Council of the Blind, Bay State Council of the Blind, and a blind Massachusetts couple filed a joint lawsuit against Hulu, another leading video streaming platform with 12 million subscribers because its content lacked audio descriptions (a separate audio track that provides detailed narration) for its low vision and blind subscribers. Moreover, their web content wasn’t screen reader accessible – another violation of ADA Title III.

Kim Charlson, president of the American Council of the Blind stated “Movies and television are pillars of American culture. As delivery of such media transitions to video streaming services, it is critical that these platforms be accessible in order to ensure the inclusion of blind and visually impaired individuals in contemporary society.”

Hulu agreeing to add audio tracks for the video content on their platform is another push toward inclusivity on the web.

4. The National Association of the Deaf v. Harvard and MIT

Both  Harvard and MIT were early adopters of edX, a program that hosts university-level courses for a wide demographic of students. However, in February 2015, Harvard (and later MIT) was sued by the NAD for failing to add closed captions to their online video content, thus alienating students with full or partial hearing disabilities. Students found that many of the videos were using AI-generated captions with a high rate of inaccuracy, thus affecting comprehension of the course content.

Overall, this lawsuit raised questions how universities can delegate resources appropriately to create accessible content and made it clear that the NAD expected all universities to caption content to make learning equitable.

Key Takeaways from the Lawsuits

Accessibility on the internet has gained momentum in the past few years with the major accessibility lawsuits setting precedents for how the web space can be made more inclusive to individuals with disabilities. Here are some key takeaways to strengthen the bottom line of your web content.

  • Make accessibility a proactive rather than a reactive measure.
  • While accessibility laws regarding web content and media are slightly foggy, expect them to become more detailed and binding in future
  • Make accessibility a priority to make inclusivity a priority
  • Accessibility is great for business: you’ll be tapping into a wide user base with good spending power. (The total after-tax income of working-age adults with disabilities is about $490 billion!)

Final Thoughts

There are many perks of being an early adopter of accessibility guidelines for the web. First, in a rapidly digitizing world, investing in accessibility is clearly the right thing to do. Moreover, you stand a chance to rise above your competition and become a market leader in your industry, whether you’re an e-learning company, a vlogger, or own an e-commerce store. Lastly, your accessibility efforts of including closed captions and transcripts will also boost your digital marketing endeavors.

Let’s talk!


A career in transcription: Are there clear benefits?

audio transcriptionConsider that a rhetorical question.

If you have strong communication skills, are detail oriented, and have a specialized technical degree such as law or medicine, a career in transcription can be rewarding for you. Now, if you have all of those but lack the technical degree, transcription can still be great for you because businesses all over the world are integrating transcription into their workflow to streamline in-house processes.

And why not? Transcriptions and captions are proving to be great content marketing tools that businesses are scrambling to leverage!

But first, ask yourself these three questions

A highly technical task such as transcription calls for professionals who aim for precision and keep on pushing the boundaries of their previous performance. So, before you set off to build your career in transcription, ask yourself these three simple questions.

How fast can I type?

We speak about 150 to 170 words per minute, and it takes approximately 4 minutes to transcribe 1 minute of audio. You must be thinking: wait, that’s not much! But this also means that an audio clip of 30 minutes will take 120 minutes to be accurately transcribed. Your typing speed is an essential skill to bank on, in this case, to close tasks faster while maintaining quality.

How attentive am I?

This may seem basic, but think again – if you’re transcribing a doctor’s notes or a witness interview, an error in the transcript caused by lack of attention can set off a chain of events with unwelcome consequences. Plus, it’s much easier to transcribe clear audio recorded in a stable environment, but handling background noise, multiple speakers, or thick accents and producing a transcript with 99% accuracy? Not for the easily distracted.

Can I keep a secret?

As a transcriber, you’ll come across confidential information such as proprietary data of a business, case files of a law firm, or a patient’s data from their doctor’s observations pretty much every day. Now, confidentiality breach is a prominent red flag in any profession, but more so in transcription. So, a reliable transcription provider ensures all employees (whether full time or freelance) sign an NDA before getting on board. If you’re comfortable with the idea and think you can uphold the industry ethics, your transcription career will definitely flourish.

Clear benefits of a career in transcription

Increasing demand for qualified workers

Specialized transcription jobs such as legal or medical transcription require both subject matter expertise and technical skills to produce high-quality transcripts. So, if you have a background in medicine or law, a career in transcription can be a great way to leverage your learning.

Lack the technical background but eager to learn, have great attention to detail, and never miss a deadline? General transcription is also growing as a profitable niche.

Flexible working hours

Need more family time or planning to study for another degree? The transcription industry employs a large number of freelancers who are happy about the flexibility their job provides. You can choose your working hours and opt to work remotely or in an office setting as a part-time or full-time transcriber. Agencies will be glad to sign you up on a contract basis with regular work so that you can hone your skills at your own pace while making good money.

Love to learn?

If you believe that life should be all about imbibing as much knowledge as possible, transcription is the perfect industry for you. You’ll learn how to work with modern technology, various software packages, supercharge your research skills, as well as learn the intricacies (for example, nifty shortcuts) of various common applications (such as word processors) to boost your productivity.

Great for those who love a challenge

Doing the same thing day in and day out can lead to dwindling interest at work. However, when you’re opting to be a transcriber, get ready for diversity (even if you’re in a specific niche such as legal transcription) as well as challenges.

Transcription isn’t only about typing everything you hear on an audio clip as fast as you can. A career in transcription means you’ll need to flex your brain muscles quite a bit by testing your analytical skills, polishing your language skills, and upgrading your research skills.

Great payoff

If you’re working multiple jobs and need to supplement your income, you can easily earn about $1000 as a part-time transcriber. On average, transcribers earn about $15-$20 per hour, depending on the level of expertise. Pay is much higher in specialized niches such as legal and medical transcription, so you may consider getting certified if you want to grow your transcription career.

Final Thoughts

A career in transcription is extremely rewarding for dynamic individuals who look for variety and challenges in their day to day work. Not to mention, you get to choose your schedule, work remotely, part time or full time depending on your availability. And the best part? You’re constantly learning new skills, imbibing new information, and upgrading your existing skills as a transcriber.

Looking for a rewarding career in transcription? At iScribed, we’re always on the lookout for dedicated professionals of all levels of expertise – hop on board!


How iScribed helps lawyers close cases faster with legal transcription

legal transcription

It’s a no-brainer that we talk faster than we type or write, but did you know how fast?

On average, we speak about 140 words per minute, which comes to a mind boggling total of 10,000 words per hour. This is why law enforcement personnel as well as lawyers choose to record conversations with witnesses or clients instead of bothering to take notes.

But as a busy lawyer, if you had to keep going back and forth between a recording or your notes to create a strong bottom line for your case, you’d be letting your client down in more ways than one. This is where professional legal transcription comes in.

The problem

At iScribed, we understand that time and cost involved in documenting client briefs, interviews, and meetings can be overwhelming. Also, why would you ask a qualified legal secretary to type out a document when their stronger skill sets can be leveraged?

Imagine cutting hours out of repetitive workflows like reviewing an in-house transcription for accuracy or grammar and actually spending that precious time on building an ironclad argument. That’s how iScribed helps legal professionals like you every day – by providing high-quality legal transcription services to reduce your staffing costs and making your case building process leaner.

High quality transcriptions for dynamic legal professionals

Build stronger client relationships

Andrew C. is a trial lawyer whose clients are typically victims of violent crime. To be as thorough as possible, Andrew prefers to record his interviews rather than take notes, and this enables him to be a patient and sentient listener. (Now we all know how focusing on one thing at a time automatically helps us notice a lot of details that we would miss.)

Moreover, Andrew understands that focusing on the conversation during interviews helps to build trust in his clients who, as victims of violent crime, respond better to empathetic listeners.

Quick turnaround time

Andrew also travels a lot, and before boarding a flight, he uploads the recordings on our website, which we proceed to transcribe into Microsoft Word documents.

Transcribing non-technical documents is fairly easy, but working on legal transcripts can be more complicated. On average, it takes about 8 times the duration of a recording to produce a high-quality and accurate output (so a one-hour recording takes about 6-8 hours to be transcribed). Moreover, those not specifically trained to transcribe technical interviews or have the right tools take much longer.

But our transcription experts can do it faster, typing away at their usual 80 to 100 words per minute but also paying attention to nuances, context, and industry specific jargon.

So by the time he reaches his destination, Andrew has a legal transcript ready that’s accurate and error free. More importantly, since the documents are delivered in digital formats through a custom-access link, Andrew is assured that his project data is secure with us.

Helpful ready reckoners

Since we transcribe interviews into Microsoft Word documents, Andrew can print out, make notes on, or highlight key areas. He has also opted for our “timestamp” add-on for several projects, which has helped him find specific content in the transcript in court or while preparing other supporting materials for his case.

Your transcripts your way

Over the years we have helped many clients like Andrew find a quick and sustainable transcription cycle as well as streamline the entire process without making long-term investments. Are you looking for a trusted legal transcription partner? Reach out to us!


Speech Technology and Transcription

Speech bubbles with businessman working his tablet.

In the modern world, speech technology has progressed as a powerful tool to improve business performance. In the past few years, speech and voice recognition technology has become a dynamic and powerful tool to grow businesses. Unlike before, where organizations and companies have struggled to find methods to understand their customers and how people use their products and services, speech technology has become the perfect tool to study and learn more about the technical needs of their consumers, enhance communication and its effectiveness, and at the same time capturing invaluable consumer data.

Summarized History of Speech technology

Speech technology started out way back in the 18th century when Wolfgang von Kempelen invented the “Acoustic-Mechanical Speech Machine.” At that time, the machine invented was the first to produce speech sounds and whole words. It later progressed and in the late 1900’s Bell Laboratories designed “Audrey” which recognized digits spoken from a single voice and was the true initial step towards speech recognition. Then after 10 years, IBM revealed the first and only “Shoebox.” The amazing machine could recognize simple words at that time.

Speech Technology has progressed perhaps most dramatically from the early 1700’s to the late 1900’s. Man’s drive to learn and improve has given rise to inventions from the simplest machines to more complex platforms. Organizations, businesses and various government offices have suddenly noticed the possibilities it could offer.

Speech Technology as an Aid to Transcription

Speech technology, as a transcription aid, can reduce information entry costs and provide delivery of accurate information through customer voice efficiently. A lot of big businesses and organizations gain amazing benefits from using voice technology as an aid in transcription. However, outputs produced by speech technology still need human intervention for accuracy checks. Iscribed can help with this and with specialized transcriptions. Check out our services above.

Once checked by a qualified transcription firm, text that is generated from audio can be indexed and be searchable in the internet. Imagine the availability of interviews, meetings and training videos instantly. It will surely make the job of employees from large to small firms easier and less cumbersome.

Learn more on how iScribed.com’s specialized professional transcription services can influence your business. Take time to visit our site or call us today!