Seeing Through Hearing: An Open Letter to HULU

Below is a letter I submitted to Hulu today via their Live Chat.  If you would like to make sure that Hulu knows how you feel about having access to audio descriptions on their platform, please feel free to sign the change.org petition and submit feedback to them directly as well via their Help Forum..

Picture of a flat screen television

Dear HULU,

I am writing you as a visually impaired individual who is a current subscriber to your streaming service.  I have used your service consistently for the past year or so since you offered a commercial free option as I have a toddler who isn’t the most patient when it comes to commercials.

I recently read that you were launching a brand new Hulu Live service as well as  overhauling your HULU apps.  When I read about this I was extremely excited and hopeful that as part of the new service and major application update you would add the provision of audio description tracks to the content that you have available.

Last week you made available your new live streaming service (in beta form) as well as shiny new applications for selected devices.  Unfortunately you have not made audio descriptions available to either your on-demand content r the live streaming service.

I realize that the blind and vision impaired community may seem relatively small by caparison to the general public, however we are nearly 7.3 million people strong.  This is a significant opportunity for you to reach millions of subscribers whom for many reasons do not currently access television programming or experience significant barriers to enjoying television programs.

I would like for you to take a moment to try to enjoy your favorite program with a blindfold on.  Are you able to understand which characters are speaking?  Are you able to understand exactly what is going on in the scene?  Are you left wondering what Mindy texted to Danny in a scene in The Mindy Project?  This confusion and unanswered questions are the same feelings that an individual with a visual impairment experiences without the opportunity to  access  quality audio description.  

I am not requesting that you create unique audio description tracks for every program that you offer   on your streaming platform.  I am requesting, however, that you make available the audio description tracks that are already made available through the original broadcast  of the television programs.  Many digital and streaming services already make audio description tracks available to their customers using existing technology available on the platforms that they are housed.

I am respectfully submitting this request and I hope that you give this serious consideration in order to offer equal access to your service to individuals with visual impairments.

Sincerely,

Serina Gilbert

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