Deaf News: Deaf teenager launches petition asking Sky On Demand to provide subtitles

Posted on January 10, 2014

A deaf teenager from Newcastle who is frustrated with not being able to use Sky’s On Demand TV service is taking them to task with a petition asking them to provide better access for deaf customers.

Jamie Danjoux, aged 15, set up the petition after attempting to use Sky’s OnDemand service to watch something he missed over the Christmas holidays.

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He discovered that no subtitles were provided so he had to miss out. Sky’s OnDemand service is available through the Sky box connected to the internet.

Jamie, who has a severe hearing loss in both ears and needs subtitles to follow dialogue on TV, contacted Sky to complain and was quickly told why there were no subtitles. He said:

“I was planning to catch up on the missed programmes from the last night using the extended Sky OnDemand service which is streamed from the internet.”

“I had found out that none of the programmes had any subtitles.  I contacted Sky about this via their live chat service and I was told ‘We had subtitles earlier but it had been stopped and it was Sky’s decision.’ I know that other providers such as Virgin Media and TalkTalk provide this service and give viewers an option to turn on the subtitles.”

This petition follows in the footsteps of another aimed at Lovefilm which was launched in the run up to Christmas. So far, that petition has been ignored by Lovefilm despite 13,000 signatures and the company being written to by the Chief Executive of Action on Hearing Loss, Paul Breckell, and Lib Dem MP Sir Malcolm Bruce.

Jamie seems to be faring no better than that so far, despite the fact that 1,300 people have supported him.

“I have had no email back from Sky since sending an email to the CEO Jeremy Darroch.”  Jamie said.

“I sent off an email explaining I had set up a petition and why subtitles should be enabled. It is unacceptable because it is denying people who have hearing loss access to the same level of entertainment as hearing people. Deaf charities and organisations have done a lot to change attitudes and behaviours but I think more still could be done.”

Other providers, such as Netflix, subtitle much more of their content and Jamie claims that Virgin and Talk Talk’s services provide subtitles too.

Sky also run a service called Sky Go, which streams content without subtitles to computer devices; but if you’re deaf, unless you record it on your main Sky box, you’ve missed it forever.

One of the most frustrating aspects for Jamie is that, according to his conversation with Sky, the decision to remove subtitles was taken when the technology to display them exists.

“Knowing that Sky had deliberately made that decision made me feel angry, upset and that my disability didn’t matter to them. It has also made me feel that I have very limited access to Sky services including Sky OnDemand and Sky Go. If I thought it would change Sky’s decision on subtitles then I would do my best to go and protest – they are discriminating against people with hearing loss and that is unacceptable.”

You can sign Jamie’s petition here:

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). 

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