Viewers, ‘Queer Eye’ Star Bring Caption Quality Concerns to Netflix

By: David Titmus
VITAC employee creating offline captions

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The topic of caption quality made headlines last week after television viewers took to social media to voice their complaints over the inaccurate captions they see on Netflix shows, including makeover show “Queer Eye.”

Fans of the show took to Twitter to complain about captions that often misrepresented, censored, or simplified dialogue from the show. Some noted that while the show censors profanity, the onscreen captions replaced curse words entirely and, in other instances, shortened or altered phrases altogether. This, many argued, changes the experience for viewers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Ace Ratcliff Tweet on Netflix Caption Quality

Blake Reid Tweet on Netflix Caption QualityThe issue caught the eye of Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown, who added his voice to the discussion and asked Netflix to investigate the concerns.

Karamo Brown Twitter response on Caption QualityNetflix quickly responded to the concerns via its customer support twitter channel, thanking Karamo Brown and all the viewers who brought the matter to their attention.

Netflix Twitter response on Caption QualityThe Federal Communications Commission’s rules for TV closed captioning ensure that viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing have full access to programming, address captioning quality, and provide guidance to video programming distributors and programmers. These include that captions should be synchronous, complete, properly placed, and accurate, meaning that they “must match the spoken words in the dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible.”

VITAC is the exclusive provider of offline captioning for prerecorded programming for more than 25 television networks. Our captions for prerecorded programming meet FCC offline captioning requirements, and our offline captioners are artists — true masters of description, line breaks, timing, readability, sound effects, and common style rules that average viewers may not notice.

And we make sure to caption pre-recorded content 100 percent verbatim. We don’t cut words for brevity, we don’t simplify phrases, and, if the program bleeps a profanity, we’ll represent that as [ bleep ] to make certain viewers get the full bleepin’ picture.

We strongly believe that the role of a captioner is not to clean up language but to provide total accessibility. We applaud Karamo Brown and all of the viewers who voiced their concerns over caption quality as well as Netflix for its quick pledge to investigate the matter.