I have an access need that requires me to break the law.
My issue is about subtitled programmes in the UK. I am one of those people who have paid the top dollar for access to high quality programmes with subtitles. My subscription to Sky comes to nearly £100 per month. It might be expensive to some but you have to remember that I don’t spend money on other things like concerts tickets, music downloads and other content for the audiophile audience. I pay money to watch the best visual entertainment a deaf person can buy.
I hope you can agree with me that I have fairly contributed to the film and TV industry to satisfy their desire for royalties on protected content. I am not only paying for the content that I do see, but also the content that I don’t, as my subscription is a flat fee each month.
And yet, I turn to channels like SyFy, which airs programmes without subtitles. That is my problem, you see, I am an avid Science Fiction fan. I don’t care what type of Sci Fi it is but I would much rather watch Defiance than Downtown Abbey. The subtitled content on territorial channels does not meet my desired viewing habits.
A friend introduced me to peer-to-peer file sharing where there are lists of uploaded programmes that are available to download. Using a file-sharing tool is in itself not illegal but the act of downloading a TV programme or film onto your computer is. In actual fact, I am more likely to see subtitled content here than in my Sky box.
My argument is that I have already paid for the programme. TV series like Continuum, Defiance and Revolution are such programmes that I would like to see and I can see them on the SyFy channel that I have paid for … but there are no subtitles. I look at that channel with clouds of fury escaping from my nostrils … why no subtitles! Why?
But you might ask, if you are downloading the same programme, are they also no subtitled on downloaded content too. Well, that’s the thing. There are websites that provide free subtitled files in multiple languages, including ‘English for the Deaf and HoH’. It is just a case of downloading the .mp4 file, which has the film, and the .svt files, which has the subtitles, and placing both in the same folder with the same name (exactly the same). You can then open your media viewing application and the subtitles will just appear. Just imagine, the next time you see a programme on your TV without subtitles, could you bear knowing that, somewhere else, the subtitles exist?
So, I have started downloading some American Sci Fi series, such as: Defiance, about a town that continues to survive after a post-apocalypse alien invasion; or Continuum, about a gang of revolutionaries and a police officer who all sent back in time; or Revolution, life when electricity is switched off. I watch them all with clear and accurate subtitles on my lap top as well as, with my Apple TV, my HDTV too.
There is one more programme that I have downloaded that I have yet to see on the channels I have paid for. I feel that I, as a deaf person, have a right to see. ‘Switched at Birth’ is an American ABC series about two daughters who learn they were switched at birth, where one of the daughters is deaf. The story unravels the complexity of accepting and embracing Deaf life, with the problems along the way. It is just the kind of programme we need to see here.
Knowing our TV companies, I doubt very much that such a radical programme will arrive here – we are not very good at showing stories about issues unless they are labelled a ‘soap opera’. So, I have committed my crime – I have downloaded the entire series that I haven’t paid for, which I have enjoyed tremendously.
While TV companies continue to flout the Equality Act and air programmes without subtitles, as well fail to bring programmes to my screen about deaf lives that I want to watch; I am going to continue downloading programmes illegally.
This Secret Deafie got in touch by anonymous email. Not even the Limping Chicken knows who this was.. But what do you think ? Is the Secret Deafie within his rights to download pirate content in the circumstances?
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s independent deaf news and deaf blogs website! Check out our supporters:
- Remark! – Deaf media company producing television programmes, video BSL translation, multimedia solutions, plus providing training and interpreters
- Deaf Umbrella – Sign language communications provider, including BSL interpreters
- SignVideo – Provider of online BSL video interpreting services
- 121 Captions – captioning and speech-to-text services
- Signworld – online BSL learning
- STAGETEXT – Charity providing theatre captioning – giving you every word of a play
- Bee Communications – Remote Captioning – providing text-based access wherever you are
- Krazy Kat – live visual theatre combining mime, dance, song, puppets and sign language
- SignHealth – The healthcare charity for Deaf people
- Signed Performances in Theatre – sign language interpreted plays and musicals
- Lipspeaker UK – specialist lipspeaking support
- SDHH – deaf television programmes online
- Action Deafness Communications – sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton – education for Deaf children
- RAD Deaf Law Centre – Providing legal advice for Deaf people – in BSL
- St George Healthcare group – conference on deafness and autism/learning difficulties on June 13th in Manchester
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. How to make Live Automated Captions with Apple’s Latest 'Clips' App
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Cast Theatre, Doncaster: The UK's the UK’s first fully BSL integrated pantomime
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Sign Solutions:, language and learning
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people