Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Catch a movie? What about captions?

"Hey, let's grab a movie and stream it from NetFlix!"

Sounds easy, right?
Everybody does it, right?

Ummm... and then, there's captioning.

Having just recently taken in a "real movie in a movie theater" for the first time in like 9 years (yes, okay, so I am not a movie fanatic!), I'd really, really enjoyed the experience of watching a captioned movie on the large screen. Those spiffy "glasses" worn over my regular specs made it easy to see the captions, even the "boom!" "Crash!!" captions, of The Avengers. A good and fun experience- and accessible.

So then, a month or so later, there was the invitation to spend a couple of hours enjoying something streamed from Netflix.

Are Netflix streamed videos captioned?
Well... according to various postings:

"Netflix hasn't provided captions for 80% of the streaming titles, they've captioned "80% of hours streamed." About half of all titles have captions, but Netflix has focused on the most popular titles first." [ http://tinyurl.com/9gutkmj ]

"If you have an older BD player, set-top box or TV you might not get captions because the firmware might not be upgradable." [ http://tinyurl.com/9gutkmj ]

And, "You can view the list of titles with captions through this link , the link at the bottom of each page on the Netflix site, or by searching for "subtitles.".

Moreover, a comment on that blog noted that "According to Instant Watcher there are 14,147 instant netflix titles available. According to Instant Watcher there are 1,372 instant netflix titles available with captions."

 I also learned that, starting in 2014, the Federal Communication Commission regulations will require captioning on Internet videos of all U.S.-produced, post-1996 programs by March 2014. This is part of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. More at:  http://tinyurl.com/9fnpmxj 

And, in addition, that the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has a lawsuit in process to cause Netflix to follow the ADA and provide equal access to its streaming video. In fact, this past June, 2012, a federal judge in Massachusetts denied Netflix Inc.'s request to throw out a lawsuit brought by the National Assn. for the Deaf, which alleges that the service discriminates against the deaf and hard of hearing by failing to provide closed captioning on all of the movies and TV shows available through its Internet streaming service. (more info: http://nad.org/news/2012/6/landmark-precedent-nad-vs-netflix) This was a key decision, because it said, on the federal level (in the circuit in Massachusetts) that the ADA actually does apply to internet only businesses.

*******  SIDEBAR: Do you have an opinion about CAPTIONING? You may wish to take the online survey at NAD's website: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CaptioningSurvey

So, it's looking like using the largest provider of streaming video content in the world (NetFlix) is still going to be a crap-shoot for those needing or wanting captioning. I wonder how many customers of Netflix it would take to contact them...and indicate the customer expectation of access?

Me? I guess I will have to go to the Netflix link and find out what content IS captioned and choose from there. 

I do sort of doubt I will become a NetFlix customer though. I have this "thing" about paying my hard-earned money to companies that discriminate.....

What about you?

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