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Amazon reaches deal with consumers who are deaf for more video captioning.

October 19, 2015

By Mario Trujillo - 10/16/15

Amazon has agreed to provide captioning on nearly all of its videos for rent or sale by 2016 as part of a deal with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD).

The deaf advocacy group announced that by the end of next year, Amazon will caption 100 percent of movies and television shows that have been watched at least 10 times in a three-month period.

Amazon has provided subtitles on all shows and movies through its streaming arm, Amazon Prime, since the beginning of the year. But only about 85 percent of its cache of videos for rent and sale outside of Prime have captions. “We are happy to partner with NAD to extend captions even deeper into our back catalog of titles,” said Jim Freeman, vice president of Amazon Video.

The advocacy group has made a point in recent years of pressuring online video companies to provide subtitles for deaf people. In 2012, it came to a settlement with Netflix to caption all of its video after taking the tech giant to court.

Earlier this year, the group filed a lawsuit against Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and claimed they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not captioning all their online courses, which have become increasingly popular in recent years.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals released a separate decision in April that found that Netflix’s services are not connected to any “actual physical place” and therefore not subject to the disabilities law.

The Amazon deal, however, was reached without litigation.

“The NAD is thus thrilled by Amazon’s decision to make its online entertainment experience more accessible to deaf and hard of hearing customers who also look to Amazon to fulfill their needs for comprehensive goods and services,” the group’s chief executive Howard Rosenblum said in a statement.