Deaf News: Petition for better access to LoveFilm leads to Sir Malcolm Bruce MP writing to the company

Posted on January 9, 2014

Following a Christmas petition calling on LoveFilm to make its services accessible to deaf people, Sir Malcolm Bruce MP (who is also Chair of the All Party Parliamentary group on Deafness) has now written directly to the Chief Executive of Lovefilm, Simon Calver, expressing his concern.

Over 12,000 people signed the petition asking Lovefilm to make it clear which of its DVDs for rent have subtitles and to provide subtitles on its on demand service.

The petition was raised by deaf film lover Stephanie McDermid after receiving rented DVDs without subtitles and having to send them back.

Petition originator Stephanie has made repeated attempts to get a response from the company with no success, but she remains hopeful that LoveFilm will have a change of heart, especially since she has received lots of support for her campaign.

“I’ve been both amazed and encouraged by the tremendous support I’ve received,” she said.

“Not only from people with hearing loss, but also from hearing friends who weren’t aware of the lack of access. At this point, we have over 12600 signatures in support. We are also backed by Action on Hearing Loss and Sir Malcolm Bruce, both lobbying on this issue. The Twitter campaign has been really successful and we’ve received support from people in the media, including stars from British TV.

“I am now in touch with people who feel equally strongly about this issue and who are campaigning alongside me and I’m now on the admin for the Love Subtitles Facebook page. It is a continued source of frustration, however, that LoveFilm has failed to acknowledge the petition directly and instead has just changed the wording of the subtitling statement on their web page.”

Celebrities that have backed the campaign include Guardian TV Critic Sam Wollaston, ‘White Queen’ Screenwriter Emma Frost, Shameless actress Sally Carmen, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Dame Tanni Grey Thomson, Coronation Street’s Cherylee Houston and comedian Toby Hadoke.

Sir Malcolm, who has a deaf daughter, but has also come under fire for voting with the government on welfare reform,  said:

“I am aware of Stephanie’s petition and the attention that it is receiving.  In fact it was as a result of Stephanie’s campaign that I was contacted about the issue and undertook to contact Lovefilm regarding the availability and labelling of subtitled services for deaf and hard of hearing customers.

“I believe that other similar companies are actively working to improve accessibility and I look forward to receiving a response from Lovefilm as to their intentions in addressing their customers’ concerns.”

We asked Lovefilm for a comment but we did not receive a reply.

By Andy Palmer, Deputy Editor. Andy volunteers for the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society on their website, deaf football coaching and other events as well as working for a hearing loss charity. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP (all views expressed are his own).

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

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