Netflix Is Available Globally and You Need a VPN More than Ever

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.

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Advocating for audio description on Netflix’s Daredevil series

Hi guys and ladies and everyone else, young and old, this is Katie, temporarily taking over Robert’s WordPress account to blog about what we all have been doing while he prepares for the 2014 ACB conference next week, which, he will participate via Skype.

There have been a lot of developments with Netflix over the past month. A lot of it deals with content. Shows have come and go. They are still not addressing accessibility for the blind and the visually impaired. The biggest news, however, is that Netflix will be producing a Daredevil TV series

UPDATE: This publication says it will be a Netflix movie.

The Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada is really excited about the project. We all are. All of us are huge comic book lovers!

Robert contacted him via twitter about adding audio description to this series so that blind and visually impaired Netflix users can fully enjoy the show. We hope he replies!

UPDATE: The webmaster of  manwithoutfear.com has replied to our tweet!

We have been sending emails and tweets directly to Netflix, as well, to try to plant a seed in their minds. Unfortunately, we have not received a reply yet.

Hannah wrote the below Email and sent it. We deliberated over the wording and then some, worried it sounded too pushy but in the end we sent it feeling really good about what we wrote!

We have called Netflix corporate and have left several messages at different answering machines, as well. no response yet

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Adding audio description to Daredevil
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 21:53:17 -0500
From: Accessible Netflix Project team
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Hi there. This is one of the Accessible Netflix Project team members writing to you to say congratulations on producing another show in the making, as outlined in the article here. We are sure that this will be an excellent show for everyone and we want to thank you for producing this series.

Daredevil is a hero loved by all, including blind comic book fans. Since we could not find any definitive answer online could you elaborate on plans, if any, about adding audio description to the show so that blind and sighted can enjoy the heroics together?

Adding audio description would certainly help to create an accessible series for everyone who wishes to watch it. Everyone could have fun and discuss the series. Families with blind spouses can all use the benefits of adding audio description to this series.

Adding audio description could also be a wonderful way of spreading accessibility awareness and showing other companies that adding audio description does more than just allow the blind to see. This could provide awareness to budding producers who may want to follow in your footsteps. Adding audio description would certainly be a win for everybody and we want to help make it happen.

We would be more than happy to provide resources and give input on dialogue regarding audio description. We would love to provide links to describers and production resources and much more. There are not many options on the web for accessible media. Doing this would definitely show other companies how and why accessibility matters. You’d be setting a phenomenal example for many companies.

We, as stated above, would love to help you with resources and information regarding audio description and audio description matters. If you’re already pursuing audio description, could you let us know that as well? Thank you for your time!

A few days later an Email flew into our inbox with gusto but it was not a reply from Netflix. A man tipped us off about the FCC here in the USA. It turns out that the FCC have a audio description committee. The link is below.

http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/video-programming-accessibility-advisory-committee-vpaac

And here are the committee members.

http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/vpaac-members

We haven’t been able to find contact methods for the committee yet but we will look when all of us have some down time after all the conventions are over with. This way we can focus on what needs to be focused on and we can be a stronger voice where we need to be.

The only thing that we can do now is wait, and wait, and hope. You can help. Tweet your support to @netflix or @JoeQuesada and let them know how adding audio description to this epic show would benefit so many! Thank you all! We will be back after the conventions!

Guest blog post: Toni Bader

For the past fifteen years I have been part of a group of Audio Describers that offer our services for the visually handicapped to various live theaters in Indianapolis.  During that time, both the number of participating theaters and the pool of AD presenters have dwindled. I am working with the Indiana Repertory Theater to reverse that trend and hopefully we will increase our audience, the theaters that offer AD, and train more Describers for our market.
In the meantime, the offer of AD for movies is incredibly necessary but uncommonly convoluted.  Sometimes you can find it on Netflix, sometimes not.  Sometimes it is listed on the DVD packaging, and sometimes, even with the listing, it is impossible to find and use.
Netflix is the most familiar business that offers movies online.  To accommodate the wide audience of the non-seeing audience, they ought to be aware of the need, especially after months and years of letter writing campaigns.
The ball of who/which company is responsible for providing this service keeps getting bounced from one source to another with no resolution and little accomplished.  It sounds as if, despite government regulation for television (also often hard to find and use), the movie industry is slow to respond to ‘viewer’ demand.
I hope that soon we will be able to find movies that are not only available for visual enjoyment but audio as well.
Toni Bader
Audio Describer
Indianapolis IN