Netflix, Starz, and Blockbuster On Demand all offer movies and TV episodes that you can “watch instantly” by hooking your television up to the internet using a specified device. While these companies have made movies more accessible to a larger audience, none of them currently provide Closed Captioning for the hearing impaired on their streaming movies and TV episodes.
When researching this topic, I came across comments from several uninformed individuals who didn’t see why this was important. According to the Deafness Research Foundation,
Approximately 17 percent (36 million) of American adults report some degree of hearing loss.
That’s a pretty significant audience!
A representative from Netflix blogged in June that Closed Captioning is in the works for their streaming videos, but would probably not be available until at least 2010. A Comcast representative recently replied to a frustrated customer with a link to the FCC’s stance on Closed Captioning. According to her, all video content is supposed to be captioned after January 2006 unless it contains specific exceptions.
These exceptions that allow companies like Netflix to be exempt from providing Closed Captioning include late night programs, public service announcements lasting less than 10 minutes, local educational programs, and
Any video programming or video programming provider for which the Commission has determined that a requirement for closed captioning imposes an undue burden.
So what options exist for the hearing impaired? Hulu, Youtube, and HBO On Demand all offer Closed Captioning for streaming movies and TV episodes. You can also gather support on this issue by visiting the Facebook group Netflix Watch-Instantly Needs Closed Captions! What other websites have you come across with accessibility positives or negatives?