Netflix Dabbling In Crowd-Sourced Captioning

By Megan O'Neill 

Netflix is starting a subtitling community in an effort to make their streaming content more accessible.  The subtitling community is purely a test at this stage, but if it works it could mean big things for the future of the site.

A note about the community went has been posted that says, “Netflix is starting a subtitling community (English-language, to begin with)!”  The company is accepting a limited number of applicants who are invited to apply on video captioning service Amara’s  Amara has been used by Al Jazeera, PBS NewsHour, Khan Academy and others to crowd-source captioning and translation.

Janko Roettgers of GigaOM spoke with a Netflix spokesperson, who said:

“Netflix is committed to accessibility and we have decided to test Amara to see if it could work for Netflix content.  This is a small scale, early stage test.  It is premature to discuss if we would actually use the titles resulting from this test or any future use of Amara.”

Deaf and hearing impaired viewers have been pushing for mandatory captions for web video for awhile and last year Netflix was actually taken to court by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD).  NAD accused Netflix of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not providing captions on a majority of their streaming videos.  Netflix asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, but last month a judge ruled against Netflix, allowing the suit to proceed.  Chris Morran of The Consumerist reported that “According to the judge, ‘In a society in which business is increasingly conducted online,’ the ADA would only be compromised by ‘excluding businesses that sell services through the Internet.’”

Again, this is just an experiment for now, but if it works it could definitely mean big things for Netflix.  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.