I'm sure it's lost in translation from legalese, but that seems like a really broad requirement. How can you claim full and equal enjoyment of deaf people at a nightclub say?
Googled the act and tried to read it (http://www.ada.gov/statute.html) but I can't parse it.
Edit: removed the bit where I said surely captions aren't hard - article links to netflix saying it is (http://gigaom.com/video/why-netflix-doesnt-offer-subtitles-o...)
They've been rolling it out slowly the past few months, but I'll at least give them credit for trying.
I had never noticed the lack of closed captioning on online video until I dated a deaf girl a few years ago, and then you sort of notice how much content exists that is suboptimal when you can't hear.
My guess is that it's better for advertising because they can show you ads that cannot be skipped before getting to the content.
My various problems with online video mean there's a lot of content from which I'm essentially cut off unless I want to put forth a special effort, and such effort is usually (though not always) not worth it.
Of course that costs Netflix money, they have to maintain two copies of each movie. But the law says you have to make the same accommodations available to disabled individuals as others have. Disabled persons shouldn't have to wait until Netflix can find "the efficient" answer, or the best technological solution. It is Netflix's responsibility to make this content accessible, and if today that means two copies of the content, so be it. Such laws are there to protect disabled individuals when it's not the best answer for a company's "bottom line" to accommodate them.
Netflix has been dragging their feet on this, and this is why they will likely lose this case.
I did, however, get in the hang of navigating apartments in the dark, and relying more on spatial memory and less on my vision for finding things (e.g. picking up your toothbrush and toothpaste).
Actually, I think I'd like to work on that :). Ah, so little time..
The Boston Opera provides a great specific example.
It's not an overly broad requirement it's an appropriately just one.
All their DVDs contain subtitle options, so the content is there. They can make the content accessible by providing a separate "burned in" copy of the content with subtitles for those who need it, and they could have done that a long time ago.
I never really appreciated captions much, but my wife does not speak English as her first language, and not having captions on a movie sometimes means she will be bored and unable to enjoy it with me.
I bought my mother a third-party device for her television so she could stream Netflix last Christmas only to find out that Closed Captioning wasn't supported. It was pretty depressing - she couldn't use it at all because she is hearing impaired.
There's a reason why there are laws in place for compliance - often times good business strategy and "accessibility for all" don't align.
It's easy to forget about accessibility. Another friend can't use iOS devices because he's mobility impaired, and is a little dismayed by the broad move to touch-based devices. But they're cool to develop for, right?
I also remember back when Apple introduced easy to use videochat in iChat with the iSight in ~2003 and again with FaceTime in iOS devices, and my deaf/hard of hearing friends thought this was an awesome alternative way to communicate.
They are cool to develop for, and I feel incredibly lucky to be working on an iPad app for visually impaired people right now and to help said people learn how to use the screenreader. It's amazing how I've watched some people go from technophobia caused by progressive vision loss to being inseparable from their newly purchased iPad/iPhone and doing more than they ever learned to do on traditional computers.
The Apple Accessibility team is made up of incredibly cool people that always seem to be open to suggestions to better improve their products. Your friend should shoot them an email at email@example.com instead of just grumbling about how iOS devices are out of his reach. I remember a lot of blind folks I knew that grumbled a lot when the iPhone first came out, because they thought an all-touch interface meant that the device was doomed for use for the blind. That turned out to be very, very wrong. You never know what they might have in mind, and maybe your friend has some cool ideas to pass on.
You certainly need to be careful that requiring captions doesn't require everybody putting a video on Youtube to caption it. As great as that would be for deaf people (and for searching video), it's a burden that might kill a lot of things.
The move to touch-based devices being hard for the disabled/elderly/etc. is an issue I've been thinking about too. It's a hard problem but one that will hopefully spur some innovation in the coming years.
I think your point is that it is a somewhat arbitrary to grant this group of people this right of equal access compared to the two other groups you mentioned, which certainly has some merit. But, that's the law, and Netflix should have to follow it the same way the entire television industry does.
In the last year or so they've made slight motions towards implementing ~some~ captions, but have done a very bad job of it. Most shows would just have random episodes captioned. So you start a new show, then a few episodes into the season realize you couldn't keep watching them in order because the next few episodes were uncaptioned. To say that this is frustrating, especially for an arc based show like Lost (which was their flagship example of "we are captioning for you!" for the longest time) is an understatement.
This lawsuit is essentially the deaf community having reached a boiling point. These were patient people who tried for the longest time to get Netflix to act like a decent company, and it just didn't happen. It's rather sad that without this lawsuit, they probably never would.
It's absurd that a private business can be forced via lawyers to offer a particular product. "We don't want to" should be allowed in a free society.
But yes, I agree, there isn't a big difference there, and personally I'm of the opinion that the government shouldn't be in the business of regulating any of it.
I feel like that already with sweatshops/child labour already - you hear a couple big companies when it hits mass media, but it's no doubt widely spread, so boycotting scandalised company of the day might not be effective (and just incentivise better PR/press control).
I still remember all those "whites only" stores going out of business in the 50s...
Sometimes there need to be rules and they need to be applied evenly so nobody has an advantage that others don't. If one business has to build wheelchair ramps or close caption while another doesn't, that's an unfair advantage.
You can dislike government all you want, but don't pretend these things we have would magically occur without some kind of intervention.
It's better of society if people do the right things for the right reasons, not because there's a threat of the law hanging over their heads.
Most regulatory laws come from chronic & rampant abuse. The fantasy land of free market ideology assumes that all important information is knowable & understandable in an instant, when that is rarely if ever the case. It also overestimates the power of a boycott or that a company will even understand that they're being boycotted or why.
What if all the disabled people in a town took their business away from Cafe A that didn't have disabled access & go to Cafe B. Given that Cafe A is extremely popular with non-disabled people, they eventually get enough money to expand. They buyout Cafe B, remodel w/o the disabled access & now there are no cafes that are disabled accessible. Has the market failed or has the market basically said "you don't matter disabled people, suck it".
It might be better, but it's not realistic. You might be surprised at the amount of violent crime that doesn't happen because of the law.
And the free market dynamics are just not effective in cases such as for the disabled. It may not be financially possible for a small company to cater to disabled customers -- this is why the law usually requires a business of a certain size. But once you hit a certain size you can afford to accomodate the disabled.
Now you're saying that a big company can say, "We don't allow disabled access", but small companies who may want to target them may not be able to afford it at all. So now you have a situation where the disabled aren't served at all because the big companies won't do it, and the small companies can't afford to.
I agree I'd like the market to sort it out instead of law, but I don't think it's realistic. Consider access ramps/elevator requirements for example - if a fairly significant chunk of key businesses (say supermarket, banks, workplaces, transport) in an area don't all have them, the area becomes practically uninhabitable by people in wheelchairs.
This should have been an important priority from the get-go. If the DVD or BR has subtitles, then there really isn't much reason the online streaming version shouldn't have this option. They gave numerous excuses on why they couldn't do it & they just kept giving out new ones. So now they have a lawsuit on their hands.
Truthfully, I don't think Netflix cares about the deaf people who use their service & those who complained they'd rather have them drop the service & get off their backs. I think they had their lawyers look over the law, feel it doesn't apply to them & they've put it on the back burner allotting very little resources to it because they truly don't care & were essentially waiting for the deaf community to put their money where their mouth is.
It's sort of like suing Blockbusters because they carry DVDs that do not come with closed captions.
In any event their current captioning needs work. I tried watching "Stone of Destiny", which takes place in Scotland, and these American ears could not understand all it. I tried using the captioning but it had a very peculiar glitch: every so often I would see a rush of captions for the next few minutes of audio. It would vanish, and then I'd hear the audio it was meant for. So I gave up.
I assumed their streaming was pulling the captions from whatever was provided on the corresponding DVD.
I have a heard-of-hearing friend and when we watch DVDs together we almost always turn on captions. However, some TV shows, such as from the BBC some years back (e.g The Poirot series) have no captions. Are the American distributors of these DVDs open to a lawsuit as well? What about my local library, where I got them?
Sure. But I've never thought of Netflix as a TV station any more than YouTube is a TV station. They don't do scheduling, they don't have an obligation to carry certain kinds of material (as, I think, TV stations must) and they aren't using limited, licensed bandwidth.
I see NetFlix as a video rental store, like Blockbuster. They've just abstracted the "get a disk, put it into a device, press play" thing by allowing me to use their servers as my DVD player (more or less).
Also, if Wikipedia is correct, "Title III of the ADA requires that public facilities, such as hospitals, bars, shopping centers and museums (but not movie theaters), provide access to verbal information on televisions, films or slide shows."
If anything NetFlix may be more of a movie theatre than a TV station.
Is there some central registry of which Americans are deaf/hard of hearing?
I doubt it.
Will they be paid out from the proceeds if NAD wins?
If they win, then there'll be an ad in the paper (hopefully not on the radio) inviting anyone who is deaf to fill out a form in order to claim their share of the winnings (after a very substantial fee to the lawyers). It'll be a few dollars. Hardly anyone will bother to write in, and lawyers will collect the rest.
Everybody wins! And by "everybody" I mean the lawyers.
If the original plaintiff has standing, a trialable issue exists, and a class of similarly situated plaintiffs can be certified, then a jury trial takes place like it would for any other kind of tort case. If the defendant is found guilty, then economic and/or punitive damages are calculated, the defendant may agree to settle or appeal, and so on. If there is a settlement or award, then lawyers for the plaintiffs make reasonable efforts to contact the other similarly situated plaintiffs (by advertising in newspapers, magazines, or wherever else there's a good chance of reaching those people), who can either opt out of the settlement and preserve an individual right to sue, object to the terms, or do nothing and receive a coupon or some other benefit. Leftover monies that are unclaimed after distribution are usually donated to some charitable organization. Having a plan in place for the distribution and disposal of any settlement or award is one of the necessities for class certification.
Obviously, I am giving you a ridiculously simplified summary here. Entire books can be written on this subject. Class actions can be frivolous or abusive in some cases, but in general they are a good thing because otherwise it would be uneconomical for individual plaintiffs to sue as the cost of going to court would exceed any award they could possibly win, and so tortfeasors would have no incentive to accomodate their requests or settle with them.
I think it was "Sabah" if anyone is checking.
How many times does each video on Netflix get watched? More than 1000? If just 1/1000 watchers is willing to transcribe the video, it's done. Hell, even starting bootstrapping the initial transcription with a speech recognition system would probably go a pretty long way.
You just need some clean UI and an easy way to have Wikipedia style edit logs/discussion pages.
The issue for Netflix is either embedding the transcript directly into the video (open captions) where you can't turn them off, or dynamically displaying a text stream via your device software, as a layer over the video.