Monday, October 5, 2009

National Association of the Deaf calls out Netflix for lack of captioned "Wizard of Oz"

From the National Association of the Deaf. (Thanks to Marlee Matlin's tweet for the tip.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Catherine Fisher
Director, Communications
Netflix, Inc.

Ms. Fisher –

On September 9, 2009, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) wrote to you in response to Netflix’s announcement that “The Wizard of Oz” would be freely available to everyone on October 3rd, the 70th anniversary of this classic film. We requested that Netflix enable people to choose to view a captioned version of this classic film by placing a "CC" icon on your webpage linked to the captioned version. We urged Netflix to take advantage of this unique opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to providing accessible entertainment to 36 million deaf and hard of hearing Americans. See In addition to the NAD, Academy Award winning actress Marlee Matlin and many other people appealed to Netflix to caption “The Wizard of Oz.”

The process of captioning “The Wizard of Oz” is technically possible and relatively simple to achieve. The television version and the DVD version of the film have already been captioned. Captions can be programmed into the Microsoft Silverlight application that Netflix uses for its Watch Instantly feature. Captions have been included in videos, programming, and movies made available for viewing online. See, for example,

We received no response from Netflix. Our request for a captioned version of “The Wizard of Oz” on October 3rd was not honored. Unlike the characters in “The Wizard of Oz,” Netflix looks like it is still searching for its brain, heart, and courage. We view Netflix’s lack of response and lack of captioning for “The Wizard of Oz” as a blatant statement by Netflix that 36 million deaf and hard of hearing people are second class citizens. This is the message that our community received from Netflix.

Netflix must commit to a policy and timetable to provide captions for its online movie service to ensure equal access to this service by Netflix account holders who are deaf or hard of hearing. Such a policy is a not only a good business practice, it's the right thing to do.

In addition, we ask Netflix to meet with NAD representatives, and the courtesy of a response to this invitation.

Rosaline Crawford
Director, Law and Advocacy Center
National Association of the Deaf
8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820
Silver Spring, MD 20910