Settling a recent lawsuit over the availability of closed captions when watching video on Netflix Instant, company officials with Netflix agreed to make sure 100 percent of all video content includes closed captioning by September 30, 2014. The lawsuit was brought against Netflix during 2010 by a deaf Massachusetts resident named Lee Nettles in addition to the Western Massachusetts Association of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired as well as the National Association of the Deaf. According to the documentation, Netflix has already added closed captions to 82 percent of video content on the streaming service and will hit 90 percent by September 2013.
Regarding the agreement, Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt stated “We have worked consistently to make the broadest possible selection of titles available to Netflix members who are deaf or hard of hearing and are far and away the industry leader in doing so. We are pleased to have reached this agreement and hope it serves as a benchmark for other providers of streaming video entertainment.“
In addition to adding captioning to existing content, rules have been put in place for future content additions. During the first year following the 2014 deadline, Netflix will need to add captions an average of 30 days after the video has been made available on Netflix Instant. That figure decreases to fourteen days in the following year and just seven days beyond September 30, 2016. The deal also indicates that the court will continue to check up on Netflix over the next dour years in order to evaluate the company’s progress with adding captions to both movies and television shows.
The agreement was put in place this week after a judge ruled that Netflix was subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s highly likely that the case will be referenced if more lawsuits are filed against other streaming video services like Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video. In order to see all video content that currently offers closed captions on Netflix, users can use the term “Subtitles” within the search function.