Deafness and Amazon Instant Video

Whilst ordering a gift from Amazon and through my own ineptitude (or was it Amazon’s sneaky button placement)  I accidentally signed up to a month’s trial of Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime membership includes free access to Amazon Instant Video and as I was lumbered with Prime for a month I thought I’d see how Amazon Instant Video performed for sound quality and subtitling.

I decided to access it on my TV via the app on Xbox Live which was a fairly painless process. Once the app was installed on my Xbox and I entered my Amazon credentials I was straight in to the selection screen. The first film I watched without subtitles until my more observant teenage son pointed out that the ‘CC’ logo in the selection screen identified which items had subtitles or, as Amazon calls them, Closed Captions. Amazon provide a useful guide to turning on Subtitles.

Despite this false start I found the sound quality far better than the On Demand films I have experienced on the Sky service. It has given me a little more hope and faith in Video On Demand and decent subtitling, I’m optimistic that with a little pressure on the Government we can get all the VOD providers to follow suit.

 

 

On Demand Subtitles

I suffer from 70% deafness in both ears and when I’m not writing I do enjoy vegging in front of the TV. My hearing aids are great but often aren’t up to the job for TV programmes so I rely on subtitles.

Have you tried watching a News programme with subtitles? They are so bad it can be hilarious but of course I’m not laughing if I’m trying to follow the news. But that’s nothing compared to On Demand subtitling.

I’m a Sky subscriber and get access to a wide range of On Demand programmes but a shocking fraction of these are actually subtitled. Also, where they’re not subtitled a huge amount of them have appalling sound quality which means to enjoy the programme I have paid for I am forced to turn the volume to the max. The result? Distorted sound. Watchability and enjoyment? Zero.

The charity Action On Hearing Loss have inititiated a campaign called Subtitle It! to petition Government to address this problem at an early stage.

Please sign this petition and help people like me to have a better quality of life and enjoy the same pleasures that you take for granted.

Shortly after I signed up to the petition I received a letter in response from my local MP David Amess. To say that I was disappointed with his response is putting it mildly. This is what he had to say:

The UK is a world leader in the TV access services… UK broadcasters and content providers are committed to meeting the needs of disabled people. The Government remains committed to seeing an improvement in the provision of accessible services for video-on-demand and will continue to monitor progress being made.

If this is the case then why is an incredible 96% of Sky’s content inaccessible to people like me who rely on subtitles? Why is the Government not taking positive action now rather than monitoring progress with a vague commitment to consider legislation in 2016?

I’m a mug for paying for this service but what’s the alternative?

Teenager Jamie Danjoux has created his own petition for Sky On Demand subtitles which is gathering a lot of support. Please also support Jamie’s petition and send a clear message to the UK Government and On Demand providers.