Gas Station Advertisements, An ADA Violation?

I’m sure most of you have been out driving your car, noticed you were low on gas and pulled into the closest gas station to fill up. As you pumped your gas have you ever caught yourself staring at the television watching a rotation of commercial clips? Now think back on one of these moments and try to remember if there was closed captioning during those advertisements, probably not. While most people wouldn’t think that the absence of closed captioning on these clips could be considered a violation of the Americans with Disability Act, apparently it is.

What is the Americans with Disability Act?

“Title III Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors’ offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation—as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)”

You can visit ADA.Gov for more information and assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Most recently a native of South Florida with severe hearing loss decided to open a law suit about the lack of closed captioning at a local gas station. The point of the lawsuit is not so he can watch tv at the gas station, the goal is to point out how the Americans with Disabilities act was passed decades ago but in 2019 businesses still do not accommodate the needs of everyone. This South Florida Native is not alone, hundreds of others have filed federal lawsuits for the lack of closed captioning at places like city council meetings, live online government proceedings and even restaurant’s websites.

The attorney for the gas station said that it was not his client’s intention to discriminate and that the act could not have foreseen television advertising at gas station pumps. The gas station has since shut down their video content and will pay the fine. In the future they hope that the law will allow notice of a violation complaint and give the businesses a time frame to make changes before paying a fine, since its not their intent to violate the act or discriminate.

Video content appears everywhere and almost every businesses utilizes it in their own way. It is essential for business owners to stay aware and up to date on the laws around when and where closed captioning is required so they always are accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community.

At Video Caption Corporation we specialize in providing captioning services for all types of programming no matter the size of the screen it will air on. To learn more about our process, languages, formats and styles give us a call at 800.705.1203 or visit our closed captioning services page!

Gary Robinson