Open Letter to Studios and TV Networks

Subtitles on The Internet: Open Letter to Studios and TV Networks
Updated April 22, 2009 Original Post

To ABC, NBC, CBS, Lionsgate, Sony, and anyone else who’s not listening.

Why not caption your internet video?

Look at the markets not served by not captioning your video content:
-deaf and hard of hearing?
-people at work who can’t turn the sound up?
-people without the ability to have sound on their computers
-people who just don’t clearly understand what’s being said

These are people who buy your DVD’s, who watch your adverstising, buy your advertiser’s products.

How hard is it to make your video sites captioned?
You have all the data already – scripts, teleprompters, cc from tv – It’s already there. CC in Flash is not hard, and there are several people producing video players with CC capability built in.

This simple blog, where I place captioned videos of your content, has received over
214,000 views. Don’t you want those viewers to go to your sites?

Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying myself. Everybody’s gotta have a hobby – mine
is captioning videos, and watching the page views climb and climb, and hearing the
people say how much they appreciate that I volunteer to make the content accessible.

But it’s your content! I am helping to promote your stuff, and doing the work
that you should have done, and that you could have done much easier than I.

Marlee Matlin on Ellen: the video that I captioned received 5,325 views in two days, and 17,000 so far.

Marlee Matlin on ET: This video has received 6,143 views.

Shoot, the 30sec Advertisement for ”Dancing with the Stars” has received 1,668 views.
(What? You don’t even caption your own advertisements?)

Insider – another 1400, and with Lisa on the red carpet, 1067. Those are 15000 views
that you guys should have had.

I have about 122 movie trailers that I have captioned.
These accumulate to 50,000 or more views that I have had and about hundreds of hours of my time, that should have never happened, had you guys been doing your job. I’m a slow typist, and I have to listen to the videos 5 times to get the text – you have it already typed out!

Come on guys – it’s time to step up! You studio editors could slip the text to the webguys.
You studio webguys could be suggesting this.

You studio execs should be demanding this.

Where are you?


(PS – Studios, Thanks for letting me have the views – I am making great new friends! )

[Edit 6/2009: See also JJP letter about Netflix:]

9 thoughts on “Open Letter to Studios and TV Networks

  1. Absolutely – All things should be captioned! Access to content by as many people as possible. As well as the ability to turn down the “noise” is a great option.

    Captioning can be a great tool for kids to read. Turn the volume down, let them read the DVD instead of listening. While the visual media has increased in their lifetime, it can’t undermine their ability to read and understand their written language.

    For captioned shows, I love reading the song lyrics. I may have “sung” the song before, but definitely not with the right words! So nice way to learn them!

    I’m in my 50’s now, and for the past 5 years have been watching all DVD’s with captioning on, so just in case slang, or an accent comes up that I don’t understand, I won’t miss the content.


  2. “Equal Access” took a step backwards when we went from VHS to DVD and now very few movie titles are available with DVS descriptions. The technology should already be there for this, since it is for director’s commentary in Special Features. When DVS is provided for theatrical viewing, it’s a total waste of resources and an affront to the visually impaired community not to extend that same track to the DVD. It’s not enough to just have captioning.


  3. Wow, this is exactly what I wanted ever since streaming videos began showing up in the internet! Thank you so much for doing all this and speaking up on behalf of all of us hard of hearing people!

    I visit sites like CNN almost every day, but stick to the text content because all their videos on the web don’t have captioning. Given that about 13% of the people in US and Canada are hard of hearing, surely it won’t hurt their viewerships if they incorporated captions in their videos! Like you said, the same programs on TV are already captioned. Thanks again!


  4. I completely and wholeheartedly agree. My film production company has a rule of making sure that everything will be subtitled– whether it is intended for a deaf audience or a hearing audience, all ASL will be translated and all spoken languages will be translated.

    I have gotten a higher number of viewers just because of this reason, as well!

    As a deaf individual, I must share that I absolutely enjoy watching all this captioned material you have done. This is absolutely entertaining and I enjoy watching all this stuff, even though some of it isn’t something I’d usually come across!

    Hats off to you, Bill Cresswell.


  5. I am in complete agreement!! My 18 yr old daughter is profoundly deaf, uses a cochlear implant, is mainstreamed, and can communicate with people who use spoken language as well as those who use sign language. However, at age 17 for the first time she knew that upon take-off in an airplane the flight attendants share safety information. She only knows now because for the first and only time we flew on an airline that showed the warning on video with captions!! Watching her face as she comprehended was something I will never forget. We wondered then why all airlines didn’t provide equal access and how we could make a difference. Additionally, her school uses the internet more than videos and so, after years of advocating for her equal access to her education, she is once again being left out of the auditory information when watching videos on the computer – socially or educationally. Thank you for your hobby and your compassion.


  6. thank you so much for the work you do. i’m a teacher of the deaf. one of my kids came in today after a long break and told me that he saw this percy movie. he was able to explain a few things to me, but we watched the video on youtube and so much more language came out of him. now, i’m printing out some screen shots of your captioned trailer so he can access the language. thank you, thank you, thank you. i cannot tell you how much this brightens the lives of my students. now… if i can just get the kids to advocate for themselves on a more regular basis to be taken to captioned showings… 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s