Netflix Stiffs The Deaf

Entertainment giant drags its feet on closed captioning

I am an unabashed fan of Netflix.  I’ve used their services for many years and have no intention of stopping.  But shame on them.

Netflix LogoNetflix is being sued by the National Association for the Deaf because they do not provide closed captioning for the vast majority of the material available on Netflix Instant Streaming.  I always assumed there were technological obstacles to captioning streamed content, but apparently that isn’t the case.  NAD claims that 5% of Netflix current Instant Streaming catalogue is captioned and that it’s a relatively simple process.

I have no ides if that’s true.  But Netflix claims that they’re working on it and that a higher percentage of the content already offers captions.  If some, why not all?  To me, they’re saying “go away, I don’t want to deal with you” and hoping nobody notices.

They probably also figure that this issue affects a small enough number of people that they can fly in under the radar with platitudes instead of actions.  They’re wrong.  Perhaps the deaf community is relatively small in the grand scheme.  But when you add in those who are hard of hearing it grows.  When you add in the people who use captions for other reasons, it grows exponentially.

We use closed captioning all the time.  The lack of captions has always been one of my major complaints about Netflix

It’s on everything else, why not Netflix Instant Streaming?

Instant Streaming.  I am not deaf.  I am not hard of hearing.  So why do I use it?

It started when my kids were small. We would get them to sleep, put in a movie and have a quiet dialogue scene end with an ear bleedingly loud explosion.  Theatrical releases play at deafening volumes and when you watch them at home you’re forced to do the same or miss the dialogue.  But with sleeping children, deafening volume is not an option.  In fact, it equals children awake and no more movie.  So we started using the captions so we could turn the damn movies down.

We’ve since become accustomed to using them most of the time.  We no longer miss quiet dialogue or blow out the TV speakers with loud explosions.  We can understand British accents with greater ease.  We can eat pizza and watch TV or a movie over the sound of chewing (yeah, gross, get over it).  We can more easily ignore the ruckus in the basement being made by the now teenage children.

Lack of captions reduces my ability to enjoy Netflix Instant Streaming.  There’s no way I’m the only person without hearing problems that feels the same way.

I have no idea if Netflix is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.  I do know that they’re being Big Fat Jerks.  They make buttloads of money.  More every single day.  Some of it is mine.  They can suck it up and caption their streamed material.

Netflix, settle this lawsuit by doing what you should have done when you were first approached about this issue in 2009.  No one should have had to sue you to get you to do the right thing.  Right now, I’m disgusted with you.  Prove to me that you’re worth my support and stop dragging your feet.  Offer closed captioning on 100% of your streamed material.  If you don’t, though I love your service, I will be forced to reassess my internal judgement of your company and relabel you as Greedy Douchebags.  Nobody wants that.

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