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The National Association of the Deaf and, Inc. Agree to Expand Closed Captions on Amazon Video

October 14, 2015
Source: Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), a non-profit civil rights organization of, by, and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, and, a leading online streaming entertainment provider, have reached an agreement that will extend Amazon’s ongoing captioning even deeper into its back catalog of TV shows and movies streamed through its on-demand entertainment service, Amazon Video.

The agreement reflects the NAD’s and Amazon’s shared goal of increasing access for people who are deaf and hard of hearing to movies and television shows that are streamed online. Amazon has already captioned 100% of its offerings on Prime Video, and under the agreement, Amazon is promising to continue to do so. This commitment will ensure continued access to tens of thousands of movies and television episodes, including Emmy and Golden Globe-winning Amazon Original Series like Transparent and Tumbleleaf, as well as primetime favorites like The Sopranos and Downton Abbey. New movies and television shows added to Prime Video (including new Amazon Originals like Red Oaks) will also contain closed captions upon listing.

In addition, the agreement builds on Amazon’s efforts to expand captions deep into its vast catalog of movies and televisions available for rent or sale. Amazon already has captions on the vast majority of those titles; the agreement will add captions to titles that haven’t been provided by content owners and will result in more than 190,000 titles made available with closed captions in Amazon’s catalog. Specifically, Amazon has already ensured that captions are available on over 85% of its video content that has been viewed more than 10 times in the past 90 days. By December 31, 2015, Amazon will caption at least 90% of such video content, and by December 31, 2016, Amazon will caption 100% of that content. All captions will be consistent with Federal Communications Commission standards for completeness, accuracy, synchronicity, and placement.

“This is an enormous step in making online entertainment accessible to the 48 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States alone,” said Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the NAD, of the agreement. “Amazon is a one-stop shop for everything from household items and clothing to books and video entertainment. The NAD is thus thrilled by Amazon’s decision to make its online entertainment experience more accessible to deaf and hard of hearing customers who also look to Amazon to fulfill their needs for comprehensive goods and services.”

“Amazon has long been committed to making its video content available to all of its customers,” said Jim Freeman, Vice-President of Amazon Video. “We have already undertaken, at our own expense, to provide captions on titles that content providers have not provided. As a result, all content available through Prime Video has been captioned since the beginning of this year and we already offer an extensive selection of captioned content. We are happy to partner with NAD to extend captions even deeper into our back catalog of titles.”

“Amazon has one of the largest online entertainment catalogs in a heavily-saturated field of online streaming entertainment providers,” said Arlene Mayerson, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc.’s Directing Attorney, who represents the NAD. “Amazon’s resolve to make its online offerings accessible to people who are deaf and hard of hearing should serve as an example for streaming entertainment providers who refuse to close caption their far more limited catalogs.”

“Amazon has demonstrated that captioning online entertainment offerings is a sound business practice in line with ensuring equality for people with disabilities,” said Julie Wilensky, a shareholder at Lewis, Feinberg, Lee & Jackson, P.C., which also represents the NAD.

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