A deaf person and two deaf-advocacy organizations are suing Netflix for making movies available for instant online viewing without providing closed captioning. Failure to provide captions -- which may cost hundreds of dollars per movie -- is a form of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they argue. (H/T Walter Olson .)
A federal judge in Massachusetts is allowing the case to proceed. If it results in a verdict against Netflix, the company could be ordered not only to transmit captions that already exist, but to create captions for movies that don't yet have them.
Better yet, the case could act as a precedent for blind people to sue Netflix demanding that it add audio descriptions of the visual aspect of motion pictures in order to avoid discriminating against them. "They’re under no obligation to provide movies to people who are blind today," said Steven Rothstein, president of a school for the blind. "They should be."
The deaf and blind, like those who didn't like Netflix's dissolution of its DVD-streaming combination packages, need to understand that they do not own Netflix and the people who create it . Like the rest of us, Netflix's creators are entitled to pursue their own interests.