Dear Ms Fern O’Sullivan and Mr Chris North,
We are writing to you as a collective group of 430 people from the Facebook group and blog the Tree House and Views from the Treehouse (http://viewsfromthetreehouse.com), a group that aims to act as a voice for deaf and hard of hearing people in order to campaign and talk about the issues that matter to us. We are supporting Stephanie McDermid and the Love Subtitles group, who sent Amazon a petition protesting the absence of subtitles on your LOVEFiLM and Amazon Prime Instant Video service. 14,000 people have signed this petition, and Amazon has not yet issued a response.
Subtitles are essential for 10 million people in the UK. According to official figures, this is 1 in 6 people in the UK. Imagine how much of your audience you are excluding by not providing subtitles as a matter of course. We come from all walks of life, across a range of ages and backgrounds. Often, the most common type of deafness is sensorineural where often people have problems comprehending dialogue thus the necessity of subtitles whether people wear hearing aids or not.
It is also important to mention that many people with normal levels of hearing use subtitles where accents are strong or there is a lot of background noise. People whose first language is not English may also use English subtitles to learn and understand spoken English.
Many of us are long term users of LOVEFiLM who have been writing emails and letters for years asking for DVDs to be subtitled and for your streaming service to be accessible to us. Some of us have become disillusioned and have stopped subscribing to your service due to the lack of response and subtitling. Some of us have hearing partners, relatives and children who share our frustration, being unable to watch films with us because they are inaccessible.
It is worth pointing out that one of the biggest deaf and hard of hearing related charities, Action on Hearing Loss, and MP Malcolm Bruce, have also been in touch and have not received a response from you or your company.
This lack of response and action from Amazon is unacceptable in 2014. We live in a world where technology has come far, and you continue to keep your customers in the dark ages when it comes to equal access. At the very least, we would like a response and for you to explain to us what you are going to do about subtitling your LOVEFiLM and Amazon Prime Instant Video films and series.
The Tree House Facebook group and blog.
Members at the time of writing: 430