“Happy” Days!

Thank you ever so to our Technical Support, for helping us to produce this delightful video and to our daughters for being so brave in signing this against their usually extremely shy nature at their school’s summer fair.

We wish each and every one of you a very “Happy” day – every day!

Guaranteed to make you smile and feel good.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

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Power to the People!

"Love Film Hate Deaf" by Mark Thomas.

Love Film Hate Deaf by Mark Thomas at Amazon’s Headquarters.

A few days ago this caught my eye and I was rendered speechless. I decided to share this image to the Tree House Facebook group for their thoughts. Little did we know, how this would dictate everyone’s day. A discussion started simmering with various perspectives… I was initially concerned how this would go down in both the hearing and deaf worlds – Would they now think the whole of the deaf community would spit their dummy and stamp their feet whenever things didn’t go their way? That this tactic represented the whole of the deaf community who had no idea this was on the cards. That it made us all appear oppressive and aggressive. When we are clearly not but fighting for equality and a just world.

I openly wished their approach could have been done more positively as people would only instinctively expect more of the same attitude from the deaf who does not represent ALL of us. I was sure Amazon had plans in place already. Had they?? None of us knew anything or who had done this… Once finding out he was hearing, our concerns were quickly put to rest.

A few of us felt the word “Hate” was rather a strong word but then again it made sense as they were just trying to juxtapose Love with Hate – A bit of irony. This manner of direct action taken by Mark Thomas, who is a comedian, over time transpired to be paying off. It became a win-win situation for both Mark Thomas and Love Subtitles in terms of publicity. The truth came to light about how Love Subtitles’ campaign and petition were being ignored, the CEO of Action on Hearing Loss was being snubbed. It became even more apparent that deaf ears were being turned onto the deaf community.

We saw past the initial reaction of Mark’s prank which had moved the campaign for subtitles up a notch and realised just how much support Love Subtitles needed. Social media was proving to be the perfect platform for images to go viral which people felt inclined to make happen, only natural being part of an internet culture.  Whether they were cardboard placard or sticky posters, we were not sure but with all the money they have saved by dodging tax, they will have some to spare for employing some window cleaners. (a joke – heh heh).

Here is a video uploaded by Chris Coltrane which shows Mark Thomas & Co carrying this out in broad daylight – extremely gutsy!

People were now starting to hope this had the desired effect, that there would now be some responses and results. Exploring other tactics, some suggestions were made to email the CEOs of LOVEFiLM and Amazon so we started once again, venturing onto another discussion about how/what we would email them. A member suggested we, The Tree House, write an open letter on behalf of the members, who could use as a template for their per use. Lizzie, our co-editor who was not feeling very well at the time found the passion and determination to create one. (Thank you Lizzie x) This was shared with the members so we could all make suggestions and additions. Our notifications started going wild, confusing us but we muddled through it all and ended up with the finalised, open letter to the CEOs of LOVEFiLM. Made by the people, for the people. To show our support for Love Subtitles and the author of the petition, Stephanie McDermid.

Tony Barlow kindly clarified to us he had started the Love Subtitles Facebook page initially and Twitter account, mainly to raise awareness. Stephanie started the petition which went super-fly. Michelle Hedley had written an article about the lack of subtitles for Limping Chicken. Tony approached Stephanie and Michelle, inviting them to pool all their efforts into one space which is Love Subtitles. It became a joint effort from that point onwards. Kudos to them.

Having just finished our open letter, Tony brought news that they had been given an update via Techdigest:

Amazon's response.

Amazon’s response.

This was like looking at gold dust! The equivalent of music to your ears. But it wasn’t over as the lady hadn’t yet sang. The subtitles were not yet available. We pondered for a moment and decided, “Lets keep the CEO’s on their toes”, seizing the day going ahead with publishing our open letter. To make sure Amazon keeps their word, to Love Subtitles.

Members who still chose to email relatively soon got a response:

Dear X,

My name is Anthony Bennis and I work within Amazon.co.uk Executive Customer Relations.

I am contacting you on behalf of the office of the Amazon.co.uk Ltd Managing Director, Mr Christopher North. After reviewing your correspondence of 13 May 2014 Mr North has requested that I respond to your e-mail.

Rest assured however, Christopher takes e-mails like yours very seriously and is aware of the issue and our response both to you as well as internally to the various relevant departments.

Amazon is committed to ensuring that all our customers can enjoy the full benefits of our products and services. We expect to begin rolling out closed captioned titles on Prime Instant Video movie and TV streaming service this year, and will continue to expand the range of closed captioned movies and TV shows over time.

In addition, our DVD product detail pages provide information about the availability of closed captioned titles and subtitles where provided by studios, and we will continue to actively pursue closed captioning from all of our studio partners.

Regards,

Anthony Bennis
Executive Customer Relations
Amazon.co.uk”

Our Open Letter was received with gratitude and appreciation by the trio at Love Subtitles and their responses have been more than rewarding. More than they realise.

Power to the People!

Power to the People!

This photo was shared to our Facebook group for the members to appreciate, see and feel the rewards of merging together, being a part of the whole process. We are just glad we were able seize the opportunity to show our support of their joint campaign and admiration for it. Our open letter inspired another Facebook group to follow suit by creating their own open letter. Which we hope will strengthen the united voices of 10,000+ deaf and hard of hearing people.

Please, sign Love Subtitles’ petition as there is power in numbers. 15,000+ signatures to date and rising. Be that extra one to make it count, even more. You know you want to and it will only take you 30 seconds. 🙂

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/lovefilm-amazon-prime-video-amazon-uk-please-list-your-subtitled-rental-dvds-and-subtitle-your-streamed-content

Thank you, for sharing this moment.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

“If we are bystanders to injustice, we invite injustice our way.”

An Open Letter to the CEOs of LOVEFiLM

Dear Ms Fern O’Sullivan and Mr Chris North,

We are writing to you on behalf of the Facebook group and blog (http://viewsfromthetreehouse.com), The Tree House, a group representing some of the 10 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK 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. 15,000+ people so far have signed this petition, and Amazon has not yet issued a response.

by Love Subtitles who started the petition and campaigned very hard.

by Love Subtitles who started the petition and campaigned very hard.

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.

Kind regards,

The Tree House Facebook group and blog.

#SubtitlesNOW

For our update regarding the Love Subtitles campaign, please click *here