As a result of a 2010 lawsuit brought against Netflix by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), a few days ago Netflix announced that 100% of its programming will be fully subtitled by September 30, 2014, in order to increase ease of access to subscribers who are deaf or hearing-impaired. Previously, NAD claimed (and Netflix denied) that Netflix violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing the option to show content with full closed-captioning.
The Consent Decree (pdf) can be read here.
This development is interesting, because it opens the audience of Netflix to a wider range of people, which may experience Netflix’s media in varying ways. For example, a movie renowned for its musical score (e.g. The Sound of Music or The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) may lose a great deal of its impact on users who may not be able to fully experience the content, which may be translated into lower ratings for these movies. Clearly, recommendation systems for selecting appropriate movies for Netflix’s subscriber base will require some updating–so that any movie suggestions should be appropriate for the target subscriber.
How do you think Netflix’s recommendation algorithms should take into consideration an expanded subscriber base that consists of a non-negligible segment of deaf or hearing-impaired users?