The fight with Amazon over subtitles isn’t over yet, says subtitle campaigner McDermid

Posted on May 16, 2014

Stephanie McDermid, the campaigner that started a petition about subtitles against LOVEFiLM says that the fight is not over to make sure the company, now called Amazon Prime, fulfils its promise to begin subtitling its streaming content this year.

Stephanie launched her petition in November last year calling on the company to make it clear which DVDs it sends to customers have subtitles; and to subtitle their streaming content. The petition, then entitled Subtitles are for life, not just for Christmas, quickly gained traction and within days thousands of people, both deaf and hearing, signed up.

The mounting pressure on LOVEFiLM came hot off the heels of Stephanie’s original success when she sparked a campaign on twitter asking John Lewis to subtitle their Christmas advert. That very swift and effective online campaign went down in social media campaigning folklore as John Lewis immediately responded and subtitled the advert.

The tweet that started it all

Emboldened, Stephanie took on LOVEFiLM, the campaign grew in strength with thousands of new supporters and a Facebook group called ‘Love Subtitles’  established. Then, last Tuesday, TV comedian Mark Thomas climbed a ladder at Amazon’s HQ and put up two identical signs reading LOVE FILM HATE DEAF PEOPLE. Within hours, the campaign gained a new momentum. Thousands more new supporters signed up and Amazon’s twitter feed was bombarded. Amazon, for the first time, responded to the campaign and revealed they would begin to subtitle content this year.

Victory? Surely now it looks like Steph will maintain her 100% record of winning fights with massive corporations.

“I am thrilled by how this has gone. It is the second subtitling cause I’ve taken onboard since last November and the support I’ve received has been amazing.” She said.

“I did know that Mark was planning something and I couldn’t disclose it until the actual day of the stunt. It was rather nerve wracking watching it unfold but now we need to keep the pressure on Amazon UK to make sure they stick to their very public commitment to begin the roll out of subtitled video streaming this year.”

“We need to make sure that no tokenism is at play. We need high quality subtitles with a clear commitment to 100% accessibility as soon as possible. People can keep the pressure on by continuing to tweet, email and blog to make sure the issue is kept in the public eye and AmazonUK cannot back out.”

Mark Thomas’s poster stunt seemed crucial to the campaign’s success but is direct action something Stephanie would consider if she picks another campaigning fight? What is next for Stephanie – has this campaigner with the midas touch got any more companies in her sights?

“I don’t currently have any other campaigns in mind for the time being. I’m committed to seeing through the current AmazonUK petition to make sure the subtitles appear on our screens like we’ve been told they will be.

“One other good thing to come from this campaign is that it can’t have gone unnoticed by other companies like Sky TV for example. It may be a great time to ramp up other subtitling campaigns out there now the issue is very much in the media eye.

“I live quite a way from London, so may not be best placed geographically to do stunts like this but I would certainly consider any legal stunts to further campaigns on and make people sit up and think if the opportunity arose. We need to take full advantage of the accessibility of social media and make our voice heard.”

Maybe Sky, with their Sky Go, Sky Anytime and Sky 3D products, all inaccessible to deaf people, should get ready to rumble.

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. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP

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