I’m not a Netflix binge type of person. In fact, I have only recently started watching a few shows. Schitt’s Creek has gotten so much hype, I felt like I was missing out if I didn’t at least try to watch it. I have found the 20 minute episodes are the perfect distraction during my elliptical workout. And when Firefly Lane, a book by Kristin Hannah, was released, I knew I would tune in. In fact, my husband and I are six episodes in and so tempted to binge the last 3 on our snow day today, but we have a strict policy of only one episode at a time.
As I began watching these shows, closed captioning popped up on the screen. My daughter is in charge of the account, so she must have activated that in the settings. It has helped me tremendously! One reason I don’t enjoy watching TV or movies is I have difficulty discerning what the characters are saying. The music/sound parts are loud and the voices tend to be jumbled or too soft. Closed captioning has greatly increased not just my enjoyment in watching these shows, but my understanding of the plot.
In preparing sign ups for a family book club at school this month, I received a note from a parent (who is deaf) requesting closed captioning for our meetings. It got me thinking, why isn’t this just standard practice? Closed captioning helps all…not just the hearing impaired. Our district practices Universal Design for Learning, so I am accustomed to creating lesson plans that allow all learners to access the content and provide them with multiple means to express their learning. Netflix and this request from a parent have caused me to broaden to my thinking on accessibility. How can I level the playing field for all? Create book access, parent communication, teacher professional development that allows for multiple entry points? I never imagined that Netflix would stretch my thinking in a such good way.