NAD Calls Out Netflix on “Deaf Tax”

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) sent a follow-up letter to Netflix today requesting that they do the following:

  • Caption all of their Watch Instantly videos,
  • in the interim, provide an easy way to search for videos that are captioned, and
  • address concerns about Netflix’s plan to charge increased fees for access to DVDs which are generally captioned while Watch Instantly videos which are largely uncaptioned.

The NAD urges consumer advocates to continue and contact Netflix to demand that they caption all of their videos.

Catherine Fisher
Director, Communications
Netflix, Inc.
[email protected]

Re:  Netflix Imposes “Deaf Tax”

Dear Ms. Fisher:

We are following up on our previous correspondence regarding captioning of Netflix Watch Instantly services. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and countless others, have long advocated for media and entertainment services to provide captions for their online content. See, for example:

In June 2009, Netflix said, “Captioning is in our development plans but is about a year away.” See In April 2010, Netflix announced that it started to provide captions/subtitles, at least on the first four seasons of the TV program “Lost.” See Recently, a blog reported that Netflix has captioned/subtitled about 300 videos to-date. See

While Netflix is making progress, which is great it is painfully slow. Further, Netflix does not provide a means for consumers to identify captioned Watch Instantly videos, except by trying to watch them. Looking for a captioned video on Netflix is literally like “looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Compounding our community’s frustration, Netflix’s recent announcement about a new subscription rate plan, effective January 2, 2011, raises the rate for DVDs, which are generally captioned (information about captions are provided on the Netflix website); and lowers the rate for online videos, which are not captioned. This new rate plan not only excludes deaf and hard of hearing people from the online service because all but a few videos are captioned, deaf and hard of hearing people now have to pay more for the DVD service that is accessible. Some in our community are calling this a “deaf tax.”  See, e.g., We agree.

In response, some people have cancelled their subscriptions. Others are calling for a subscription rate for unlimited DVDs equal to the subscription rate for unlimited online videos as a way to compensate deaf and hard of hearing people for the inaccessible online service.

The NAD calls on Netflix, again, to caption all of the videos on its Watch Instantly services now. No exclusion, no discrimination, no special discounts, no exceptions. We do not want to pay more and get less. We want equal access.


Rosaline Crawford
Director, Law and Advocacy Center
National Association of the Deaf
8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820
Silver Spring, MD 20910