(Jan. 26, 2016) Deaf and hard of hearing airline passengers will soon have closed captioned, on-demand in-flight entertainment videos. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), a non-profit civil rights organization of, by, and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, and Gogo LLC, the global leader in providing broadband connectivity solutions and wireless entertainment to the aviation industry, have reached an historic agreement for Gogo to make closed captioning available for 100 percent of programming content sourced by Gogo and streamed through its on-demand in-flight entertainment service, Gogo Vision.
This is the first agreement of its kind with an in-flight entertainment company, and is the result of the parties’ mutual intent to increase access for people who are deaf and hard of hearing to movies and television that are viewed in flight on U.S. domestic flights. Passengers using their own personal Wi-Fi enabled devices can access a Gogo Vision server located on aircraft of certain airlines that contain an extensive library of movies and television shows.
Under the agreement, Gogo has now added technology that will enable customers to have the option to display closed captions for content with closed captions sourced by Gogo; Gogo has also begun sourcing new content with closed captions where available; and Gogo will replace all of its existing sourced content with content that has closed captions through a phase-in process that will be completed by June 30, 2017. All captions will be consistent with Federal Communications Commission standards for completeness, accuracy, synchronicity, and placement.
“This is a monumental step in making in-flight entertainment accessible to the 48 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States alone,” said Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the NAD, of the agreement. “Personalized in-flight entertainment has made air travel exciting again. The ability to access and watch an extensive library of movies or television shows helps pass the time on long flights. The NAD is thus thrilled by Gogo’s decision to make the in-flight entertainment experience equally accessible to deaf and hard of hearing passengers.”
“We are excited to work with NAD to offer Gogo Vision’s entire library of movies and TV sourced by Gogo to passengers who are deaf and hard of hearing,” said Ash ElDifrawi, Gogo’s chief commercial officer. “Watching movies on a passenger’s own device has become a very popular product for Gogo and we are excited to provide access to this product to the deaf and hard of hearing.”
“In-flight entertainment systems can be designed to accommodate captioning in a variety of ways similar to what is available on home television sets,” said Arlene Mayerson, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc.’s Directing Attorney, who represents the NAD. “Gogo’s actions and commitment demonstrate its dedication to providing accessible in-flight entertainment systems. DREDF urges other in-flight entertainment providers to follow Gogo’s pioneering example.”
“By seeking to ensure 100% closed captions on all of its streaming titles, Gogo has demonstrated that it is an industry leader, setting the standards for in-flight entertainment,” said Julie Wilensky, the Director of the California office of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, which also represents the NAD.