The Accessible Netflix Project has truly worthy goals, hoping to make Netflix available for everyone who wants to enjoy themselves online regardless of any disabilities they might have. They constantly provide great updates on this mission, such as this post about the growth of described offerings despite some titles leaving the website.
As of the beginning of this year, Netflix has moved forward with an initiative to expand and deliver streaming content to countries all over the world, just as it does in the United States. This is clearly a logical step for the company, and while it may run into a few inevitable hurdles, it will position the online giant as a force to reckon with for decades to come.
Yet what does this mean for accessibility? How will it be rolled out, and what content will be available to which countries? How will various trade deals and other legal matters complicate things? Will content be available for people who need audio descriptions and other aids all over the world as it is in the United States? How might data rates and other online issues be affected? These are all complex questions with complex answers, but it’s clear that the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is still necessary for a lot of users to gain full access to Netflix.
What Does This Mean?
The expansion is here, often under the name “Netflix Global”, but what does that mean for you and for the hopes of a more accessible Netflix for all?
There don’t appear to be any reports as of the time of this writing concerning the plans for audio descriptions for any of the content, which means we need to prepare for any possibility (although we can remain a little hopeful after the Daredevil debacle that things will be at least a little better). We now get to see the content available, but the content isn’t static, and after enough viewers are lured in, Netflix might pull the plug on its more expensive options.
The Limitations Still Imposed
There is no reason to expect that the US-based Netflix catalog will be the same as the Netflix catalog of any other country on the planet. Netflix will limit the catalogs based on rights issues or contract disputes with content providers, leaving the customer to suffer. This could mean that countries with a smaller market will have problems regarding the variety of content and the ability for that content to cater to those with special needs. Netflix might feel as though the demand simply isn’t there, leaving you up the creek without a paddle.
While the current situation is certainly better than having no access at all outside of the United States and a few other countries, it isn’t good enough yet. The limitations are still potentially too strong, and only with increased pressure from the customer base and the use of the proper tools can things be made right.
Virtual Private Networks and Their Uses
The VPN is just the tool you need. It is a service that connects users to an offsite secure server, allowing them to appear as though in a different country. On top of this, the connection is encrypted, keeping out anyone who might want to look at what you’re using online. They were originally developed for business purposes, but consumer options are now available and widely popular online for gaining access and security.
The most immediate thing that you need to know about VPNs is that they will give you the access you crave wherever you might need it. Travelers already use them in order to access the accounts they pay for when outside of the country. People living outside the states used them to get a Netflix account in the first place, and now they will use them to maintain their access to the full library offered by the service. Considering the varied offerings to come out in the future, it seems like people need a VPN now more than ever.
People also can use them for additional benefits online in global communities that have concerns, such as security and censorship. No one has to know what you’re watching online or that you’re using any website online at all because a VPN masks the user’s IP address, creating anonymity online. The same methods that get the user around regional restriction also get a user around government censorship, making it a tool for general online freedom worth the consideration of anyone concerned about overreach.
As stated before, this expansion can only be a good thing in the long run, and it will prove itself helpful to the cause of making Netflix available for all types of users. Make your voices heard, and let people know what you want. Don’t let your location limit you, and be bold in the choices you make regarding your technology. A VPN can be a major step in accomplishing your goals.
Do you have any thoughts on the recent expansion of Netflix to nearly every corner of the globe? Do you think that there are other important things to know about this expansion and how it might affect access by everyday people? Do you have any thoughts on VPNs or experience using them? Please leave a reply below describing your thoughts on the matter.