I continue to give Netflix a shot. I’m less than impressed, and will probably cancel; I’m totally behind NAD and their current suit against the Big Red Sign. Here’s why.
Netflix really needs to try using its app before releasing it. Not only are the captions awfully hard to read (I can force it into a letterboxy mode, which helps because part of the thin yellow letters are on black, but not all.) Also, for some odd reason, every time I switch apps, the captions turn themselves off. Have to pause the vid, turn them back on. Maybe that’s why they have the “go back thirty seconds” button – an unusual stroke of genius. I expect it’s a little better on a desktop computer, but on my iPad it’s a pain in the home button. Overall, it’s a half-hearted attempt to provide captioning access.
Wow. 30% doesn’t cover much. I saw the first season of Heroes, which I missed the first time around. A couple of films. Adam Stone dropped by and watched the first forty minutes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A lot of the movies I want to watch, well, there’s one or two of each genre with captions, and then… what? There’s no consistency in what’s captioned. Sometimes episodes within a series aren’t, leading to griping and insanity. That first season of Heroes missed captioning an episode, which drove me nuts. Everyone who’s checked it out agrees that far, far less than 30% of their content has captioning; that seems like a throwaway number.
WHAT I WANT TO KNOW
- Does Netflix have a goal or target of any kind in this area? Like, 100% captions by the year 3000? 2999 would be nice.
- How often are they updating videos with captions? Is this like a once a year thing? I’ve been checking; in almost a month I haven’t been able to find videos with captioning added. Did they just do a bunch and forget it?
- Are they ever going to, you know, demand their providers include the captioning files? Don’t give me junk about captions not existing and taking a lot of work to create; that hasn’t been true for most of my adult life.
Honestly: a manic wombat could do a better job than this.
I emailed someone on their admin list, with no reply. Will try others. Frankly, I don’t expect a reply. They have canned responses ready. They simply don’t really seem to care.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
So it’s all entertainment, you say. Why does it matter? Why is NAD mad?
Well, first, it’s not just entertainment. Some of it’s education. Some of it’s history. Netflix is, basically, a video library, and as such no more or less important than a regular printed-word library. Maybe more so for Deaf people.
And, more importantly, all of it is culture. Every one of those videos – trashy or not – is a part of American culture. The ones that aren’t are windows into the cultures of others. When hearing people talk they refer to this entertainment, sometimes metaphorically. Films and lines from films become idiomatic. Some of them stay relevant to our culture for decades. Some of them even make their way into art and literature. I have no desire to become ignorant due to some corporation’s inability to provide access to our national language. It’s the height of hypocrisy for people to bludgeon us with fourth- and fifth-grade reading levels, and then not provide textual access to what’s popular today. If we silence ourselves about this and do their dirty work for them, we not only allow ourselves to be cut off from the rest of America and allow others to guide our critical thinking skills, we also allow them to disenfranchise Deaf children of all kinds around the country and their families. It’s time for all companies to set 100% captioning standards – and time for all Deaf consumers of any stripe to unite for this one, simple, humane, easily-implemented bit of access which, honestly, everyone benefits from.
So go NAD! To find out more about their case, check out the DREDF site. And if you too feel discriminated against by Netflix, they have a form where you can share your story.
Poll: How would you make Netflix compensate america for this disservice? Or, how can we bait other companies into getting there first and captioning all their content?