After being sued by America’s National Association of the Deaf, the video streaming company Netflix have agreed to offer captions (which are called subtitles in the UK) on 100% of its TV and movie content in the USA within two years.
However, when we contacted the UK arm of the company, they told us that while they expect their provision to increase, they will not match the commitment the company have made in the USA. They also refused to give any specific targets for improving the level of captioning they provide in this country.
A representative of Netflix told us: “We are committed to providing an accessible service and you can expect that percentage to increase over time, though I can’t give any precise goals.”
At present, 82% of the content that American viewers watch has captions available, which will go up to 100% in September 2014. However, the number is much lower in the UK, at just 60%.
While television channels have a duty to provide a certain amount of their programming with subtitles, the same legal obligation does not exist online, which means that deaf viewers face a very different level of service on video streaming websites.
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