Sunday, May 15, 2011

Netflix: Make films accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing


I started the petition because I recently lost the majority of my hearing and discovered the many challenges the deaf and hard-of-hearing face every day, especially in terms of entertainment access. I've been a long time subscriber to Netflix and when I discovered how little of their content had subtitles (CC and subtitles used interchangeably), I did some research into Netflix and what they were doing or had promised to do to provide equal access. I also researched various laws, including H.R.3101 and ADA.

Although Netflix has been working to improve access by the inclusion of subtitles, there remained limited ways to search their content, not to mention that now with limited access I still had to pay the full subscription rate. Thus, the beginnings of the petition.

Now there is a civil action lawsuit against Netflix regarding this same issue by Don Cullen and The Weston Firm in San Diego. Believing that consumer activism can affect corporate policies faster than our legal system, I'm now working with to promote the petition in hopes that through the voices of many that Netflix will improve access. Here is what we are requesting of Netflix through the petition:
  1. Display "with subtitles" (or other clearly identifiable mark) below the movie/TV show name on all displays of content selections as a stop-gap measure until ALL movies have CC or subtitles.
  2. Netflix to provide detailed search functionality of content with subtitles, not just a simple listing of such content.
  3. Upon implementation of such, advertise heavily in the deaf and hard of hearing communities informing us about the implementation success.
  4. Netflix to provide a "limited access rate" (or a substantial discount) to any person who is deaf or hard of hearing until ALL content provides equal access, which can be accomplished through a simple legal certification process of your choosing. Perhaps through a direct email address for any deaf or hard of hearing customers to prove such status.
Check out the petition here. I look forward to seeing your signature!

After obtaining a dual degree in Architectural and Landscape Design from Louisiana State University, he joined the U.S. Air Force. Years later, he began to lose his hearing and this inspired him to become active in deaf-related campaigns. Currently, he lives in Austin, Texas with his family and works as the founder of Architecture Energy Initiative.


  1. From what I seen that I cannot get subtitle on Mac computer. Yet, I able to see subtitle on my Wii with Netflix app. I find it odd.

  2. You can get subtitles on the Mac. Netflix also works on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

    You can use to find out which movies have subtitles.

  3. Make sure you are only using the BROWSER version of Netflix on the Mac. any other version will not work. Same with Windows.

  4. I posted the URL to this on Reddit, hoping that this would get more signatures. However, one user refused to sign the petition because he/she didn't want to put his/her address on the petition.

    Is this a privacy concern that needs to be fixed?

  5. To date, the Netflix Petition has reached over 4,900 signatures and is growing daily. Yesterday, Marlee Matlin sent the following message on her twitter account, “Dear Netflix. Nevermind about the price hike. When are you going to start captioning your streaming content? Fail, big time.”

    For more news and updates:

  6. @Zane;
    About addresses on the petition...

    They do have to provide their address, but their address is not seen publicly. Anyone signing the petition or registering with can always opt out of receiving emails about other petitions, they can also select to not have their signature publicly visible. I hope this helps.