February 18, 2020

Massachusetts Institute of Technology plans to caption its online content and pay more than $1 million in attorney fees to hearing-impaired community advocates behind a proposed class action claiming the university denied the hearing impaired equal access to its website, according to a settlement outlined by the parties Tuesday.

The deal comes months after Harvard University worked out similar settlement terms with the National Association of the Deaf and other parties to add audio and video captioning and pay $1.5 million in attorney costs.

MIT agreed to provide accurate captions to videos on its website, and it also said it would supply written transcripts for audio content on its website. New content must be captioned within 60 days after the agreement goes into effect, and old material will be captioned within seven business days if someone asks for it. The university will also caption live events.

The settlement also says the university will provide training for audio and video captioning, and will make regular reports to the National Association of the Deaf.

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The plaintiffs are represented by Joseph M. Sellers and Shaylyn Cochran of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Arlene B. Mayerson and Carly A. Myers of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund Inc., Thomas Murphy, Caitlin Parton and Tatum Pritchard of the Disability Law Center Inc., Amy Farr Robertson and Timothy P. Fox of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, and Howard Rosenblum of the National Association of the Deaf.

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