A few years ago I watched dozens of foreign films on Netflix, not because I am a foreign film buff but because they had captions. Like 50 million other Americans, I have a hearing loss (it’s 1 in 3 for people over 65). Video without captions is useless to me. At that time, there were not a lot of captioned Netflix movies other than foreign films.
Today is a different story. After being sued for being in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Netflix has agreed to add closed captioning to all of its offerings. Almost everything on television has closed captions. If you do not have captions turned on you don’t see them so it seems like a great solution for everyone. True, there is some expense to add captions but it makes a video accessible to almost 50 million more people.
The web is behind the times on closed captioning. Most web video does not have captions probably because it was produced by people without the experience, resources, or interest in adding them.
It is actually quite easy to add captions with YouTube and there are many helpful instructions online. If we truly care about visitors to our web sites, we can’t ignore the 20% of people with hearing loss.
Movie theaters are yet to have a useful closed captioning system. That’s why Robert Redford’s, “All is Lost,” was my favorite movie this year. There is no talking.
It was not bad watching lots of foreign movies. I learned that the Scandinavians make excellent movies and there are some amazing Israeli filmmakers.