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Streaming Netflix Doc Angers Deaf Community

By Tamara Krinsky

As alternative delivery methods continue to evolve, new challenges accompany them. Those on the DEAF WORLD AS EYE SEE IT blog/vlog are furious at Netflix because the company is streaming the documentary Through Deaf Eyes, directed by Diane Garey, without captions. The two-hour documentary explores 200 years of deaf life in America.

Efron writes on her blog, "I cannot imagine that Netflix would post this documentary as an online streaming option which Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals are unable to watch because there is no captions available!"

Netflix is currently exploring solutions for subtitling and captioning streaming video, which involves several technological hurdles. More details can be found on the Netflix blog, which states that the company hopes to deliver closed captioning and subtitles in 2010.

This is not soon enough for those who have posted on the Deaf World blog, many of whom feel that this documentary in particular should only be streamed with captions. There is also a push to get Congress to pass HR 3101, designed to increase closed or open captioning on the Internet. Otherwise known as Caption Action 2, the bill picks up where Caption Action left off. From their Facebook Cause page: 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a movement called Caption Action to get closed captions on home video. That movement was successful. Now we have the Internet, and television is moving to the Internet. But, many networks and channels do not caption on the Internet. This is Caption Action 2: Internet Captioning.

Also, we have also become aware that some deaf and hearing people think mistakenly that the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 will require everyone to caption on YouTube. That is not true. Only commercial and government broadcasters will likely be required to caption on YouTube. Grandma won't have to caption her video of her grandbaby learning how to walk.