Deaf to the Problem: Missing Subtitles – Newsweek Periscope –

Deaf to the Problem: Missing Subtitles – Newsweek Periscope –

Subtitles: Deaf to the Problem

“An estimated 31 million Americans are hard of hearing, so it seems intuitive that Apple would provide captions on shows like ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘The Office’ that it has started selling online. Yet, in a mystery worthy of ‘Lost,’ there aren’t subtitles on any of the iTunes video products. ‘We’re just shut out,’ says Maria Herr of Chicago, who is deaf. ‘I paid $2 for an episode of ‘Commander in Chief’ and I have no idea what Geena Davis is saying.’

Apple declined to comment, but iTunes is refunding the money to those who complain. In an e-mail to one such customer, a rep wrote: ‘Unfortunately, we face a large challenge incorporating legible text onto the iPod screens in a manner that does not consume the display in a disruptive fashion.’ But lots of people buying the programs from Apple intend to watch them on their computers or TVs—not on their tiny iPods. And many parts of ‘Lost’ have captions when the characters are speaking in other languages, which show up anyway.

It’s just a new version of an old slight, says National Association of the Deaf president Nancy Bloch. All broadcast TV is required now by the FCC to carry subtitles, but that doesn’t apply to in-flight movies, Web video clips and the extra material tacked onto the DVD editions of movies and TV shows.

—Steve Friess”


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