Netflix says don’t expect audio description anytime soon

Hi all! I’m bringing you an update that contains bad news for the blind and the visually impaired community, but first, for the people who are just signing up, I’ll I’ve a brief recap about what we have been doing.

In short, we have been contacting TV show distributers and producers as well in movie companies and broadcast networks such as fox and Sony. Things are still working out with Sony but fox has agreed to give all future Family Guy episodes to Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t want to have them… at all.

I replied with this email below. Their response to my telling them that Fox was going to do this is below my email to them. Below is my response to them.

If the producers are willing to provide the needed audio description files to you free for all future episodes then all your programming and design team would need to do is find out how to make the audio description available in the languages menu of the streaming player. I’m sure this wouldn’t be hard to do, but thank you for the reply.

And here is the reply that they have sent me when I told them that future Family Guy episodes were going to be made to them, free, no less. Every audio description that’s produced will be available to Netflix dealing with the Family Guy TV show.

Hi Robert,

Thank you for being a Netflix fan and for being so passionate about making Netflix more accessible. At this point we have no immediate plans to add audio descriptions to our service. We continuously evaluate this and we will let you know if there’s a change, but don’t expect it to come in the near future.

Well, looks like its back to the drawing board. I wonder if Hulu will be more open to adding audio description. I’ll try some other people at Netflix. That was just only one person.


7 thoughts on “Netflix says don’t expect audio description anytime soon

  1. It really is a disappointment that Netflix would do this, considering that they have had an increase of subscribers since they have added new shows. If I were running a business, I would do anything to serve my customers with the best experience possible. If I really cared about my customers, I would do anything to make sure they continued to stay with me. This includes people with disabilities. I am a totally blind Netflix subscriber, and although I will not be leaving Netflix anytime soon due to all the documentaries my husband and I love, I feel disappointed that Netflix doesn’t want to take rapid action to consider those who can’t exactly enjoy Netflix as well as others do. We have close caption and we have shows in multiple languages. I’m not one of those overly dramatic people who are going to have a hissy fit. I do know that things take time and that it’s not exactly simple to program a new track of description over the audio track of the movie. I know things take a lot of hard work and patience, but it takes a lot of work to put a show in Spanish, for example. I don’t understand why Netflix can’t simply take shows that are already in descriptive and make them available to their subscribers who could really benefit from them. If someone from Netflix is reading this, I would hope you would simply understand what you are denying to your customers who are blind. It really is a shame. I hope Netflix will soon realize just how important audio description is for us. This is something I truly want to see happen, and not just sometime in the distant future! It’s been put off for too long!

  2. CVAA says come October, they won’t have a choice. Some businesses require a firmer hand than others. While mentioning the threat of lawsuit is usually not a good way to go, making sure they’re aware we’re aware it’s an option may be the only gode to move them.

  3. Hi Drew,
    I hate to burst your bubble but the CVAA does not mandate that any video distributed over the internet contain audio description. The only thing the CVAA gave the federal communications commission the authority to do was reinstate the old video description rules from 2000. Those rules do not mention the internet whatsoever. The rules that took effect last July state that when content is being aired live on certain television networks, it must contain audio description at the time of broadcast. The rules also state that a show must be rebroadcast with description whenever it is aired after its initial debut, however there is no legal requirement for any provider to make the description track available afterward online. Perhaps you were thinking of the caption requirements as the CVAA does mandate that captions be made available for internet programs. It’s really too bad but that is what the law says.

  4. Try to ask for their stated reason for not being interested in audio description. It may be that, even with free description available, they just don’t want to do any extra work, or think it is too much work, or their business agenda is just concerned with other things. On a related note, I wish our pwd amount was even fifty dollars more a month, but it’s not on the provincial gov. agenda any time soon, and I’m sure it’d take a month of full-time political science research to find out why. I suppose if every single NF subscriber threatened to cancel their sub if AD is not worked on, NF would take some notice. The same old majority vs. minority game; just my two cents worth of political philosophy.

    • Well, that’s the very question that we have asked. We’ve even tried calling and contacting someone – several times. We navigated to extensions and left dozens of voice mails, and we have tried at regular intervals throughout the day to call them, in my time, Chicago time, and times that would also be convent for them. Morning, mid-day, afternoon, and yes, even in the evening. Out of all the 67 calls that we have made, no one answered us. We have sent an email asking that very same question and we have not heard back from them at all since they have told us that we shouldn’t expect audio description anytime soon. If you read later on in the blog you will see that we have even tried sending a letter to Netflix with affiliations attached. We have other plans to advocate though and hopefully those will happen this year.

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