Push Girls On Sundance Channel: Free If You Can Hear, $2.99 Per Episode If You Can’t

Push Girls  is a reality program about four beautiful, fabulous women living in Hollywood who use wheelchairs. When reader Chris, a disability activist, heard about it, he wanted to check it out. For viewers who don’t have cable (or Dish Network subscribers), full episodes of the program are actually available online. As long as you’re able to hear, anyway. If you need (or choose to use) captions, those are only available for $2.99 via iTunes, please.

I learned about a new reality TV show called “Push Girls” from a
fellow accessibility advocate. I was quite excited about the idea and
looked forward to seeing the show once it premiered. I do not have
cable, nor do I know any one who subscribes to The Sundance Channel.
This weekend, I found out that the first four episodes are on
www.sundancechannel.com. But alas I was unable to watch the episodes
because I’m deaf and there were no closed captions with the video.

So, I went on to Twitter and Facebook to spread the word and see if I
could raise some awareness about the lack of captioning.

Well, some one found the facebook page for the Push Girls TV show, and
asked about the closed captioning on their wall. As it turns out they
say they do provide closed captioning… via iTunes. Which happen to
be $2.99 per episode.

Programs aired on TV are still required to be captioned, but streaming video online…not so much.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Joedragon says:
  2. qwickone says:

    Is there some kind of disclaimer, like “all features not available” or something like that (blocked at work, so I can’t check…)? Even if there is, they should really be offering all of the “disability” related features since it’s a show that features disabilities.

  3. spartan says:

    In California, any violation of the Americans with Disability ct is also a violation of state law (I+Unruh Civil Rights Act). If Chris is a California resident he can sue them for $4,000.00 because they discriminated against him.

  4. SkokieGuy says:

    Aren’t most computers for the deaf set up with speech to text software?

    This probably certainly isn’t unique to Sundance channel online broadcasts.

    • Megladon says:

      No, they’re not, and the tech is still at the point where what comes up on the screen can be 90% different then what was said on the show. The only way for over 90% of the words to come up the same as they were said is to have someone caption the show, a real person, machines are not yet up to the task.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        How disappointing. I had no idea.

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          Have you *seen* some of the automatic transcriptions on Youtube? They’re hilarious, but terribly inaccurate.

          • SkokieGuy says:

            Nope, but speech to text on cell phone, tablets and voice commands in cars, (and for that matter, automated phone trees) seem reasonably accurate.

            • Laura Northrup says:

              Yeah, but you’re speaking specifically knowing that a computer is recognizing you.

          • Megladon says:

            exactly what you said. Google is one of the better ones though, but I really like some of the channels on youtube that caption themselves like epic rap battles so that my wife can watch without wondering what the hell is going on.

    • SimonJ says:

      It’s unique that there is two versions and only one has to paid for. If it was the same one either with or without captions then fine, it is the injustice that is wrong.

      • eldergias says:

        If an ice-cream shop is giving away free mint ice-cream and I am allergic to mint ice-cream, is that an injustice against me on the part of the ice-cream shop? Do I have a right to demand that they give me some free vanilla ice-cream due to my allergy?

        • Auron says:

          No, because unlike someone with allergies, someone with disabilities is a protected class.

          • eldergias says:

            What is the logic behind protecting some people and not protecting others? How is that fair?

          • HRGirl wants a cookie says:

            (Psst, allergies can be considered a disability if they bad enough to severely compromise one or more major life activities. It was almost a good argument, though. Signed, HrGirl who has allergies and is an ADA Coordinator).

            • eldergias says:

              Good point. There are people with peanut allergies so bad that they are considered as having a disability.

              • Artist Formerly known as HRGirl says:

                dang, just saw this. I don’t think you have a sense of how much the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 changed the game. For two decades it was almost impossible for someone to prove discrimination based on disability because it was damn near impossible to meet the legal definition of disabled. Now, any medical condition (including temporary, seasonal, or episodic WHILE ACTIVE ) that compromises one or more major life activities may be eligible for accommodation. Mitigating factors such as medication may not be taken into account. The only exception are eyeglasses, the rest is “take me as you find me”.

                In the most generous interpretation of the law, a common cold may be eligible for an accommodation depending on circumstances. Personally, I have hayfever and am compromised in the major life activity of breathing in the spring. Antihistamines make me sleepy, I choose not to take them during the day because it could compromise my work performance. I requested, and received an air purifier for my office. $66 later, my employer has a happy, alert, not congested worker.

                If I were putting together a case against Sundance, I’d argue that accessibility to discretionary funds is a mitigating factor that cannot be taken into account. Not a slam-dunk, but might be enough to initiate some changes.

        • HRGirl wants a cookie says:

          Empty argument.
          The ADA calls for “reasonable and effective” accommodation. No, the shop would not have to give you free ice cream, but they would have to, say, wipe down a table if the previous occupant had left yummy minty drippings. You have not been denied equal access to ice cream, you just can’t eat that flavor.
          In this case, no one has “demanded” anything, an advocacy group is asking a show with major themes of accessibility for individuals with disabilities to make their show accessible to individuals with disabilities.

          • eldergias says:

            And it is accessible… on Itunes. They are asking for a handout. They are saying, “Hey, give it to us for free.”

            • little stripes says:

              It should have come with captions to begin with. It’s kind of ridiculous to make someone pay separately for captions, when captions are normally distributed along with any DVD you buy or rent or stream (if they are available), without having to pay for them seperately.

              No one is necessarily demanding anything and I don’t know if this is something that would be illegal or agains the disabilities act, but it’s still a dick move.

              And this brings me to a question: If this movie wasn’t free and you had to pay for it, would the captions still be sold separately? That’s important, I think.

              Neither is great. Both scenarios require you to pay more for the privilege of being deaf.

              • eldergias says:

                I agree that it should have been provided with captions initially, but it wasn’t. It was provided for free to the public, as a gift, a courtesy. If I was giving something away for free and someone came up to me and said, “I don’t like what you are giving away, it doesn’t suit my needs. You should give me something that does suit my needs.” I would say that person was being rude. It is unfortunate that what is being given freely doesn’t suit their needs, but complaining about a free gift is not classy, it is actually rude. You don’t complain about gifts people give you because it is rude, I was taught that as a small child,.

                • little stripes says:

                  So you don’t see a problem about a show about and for people with disabilities not providing reasonable accommodations for their audience?!

                  They shouldn’t have had to be asked to include captions in the first place. It should have been the default setting. It should ALWAYS be the default, but considering this is a show for and about people with disabilities, it makes it even worse.

                  This discussion is going on because online distributors are not taking the initiative and including captions to begin with. They are having to be asked. Which is bullshit.

                  And this is how consumerism works.

                  It isn’t really about JUST this case. It’s about how people with disabilities are screwed over all the time when it comes to online media.

                  • eldergias says:

                    You are making it sound like there is no way for deaf people to watch this show with captions. We both know that is not the case. If it was the case I would be on your side of this discussion. The issue is that the way for deaf people to watch the show when it is not on television is via a paid service. You would not be arguing your side if everyone had to pay to watch it online and you would not be arguing your side if there was no online distribution, if the show was only shown on tv with captions. You are arguing about a free gift freely given by the network. Apparently you think that is completely okay do to. In that we are at an impasse of disagreement, I think it is not okay to complain about a free gift.

                    • little stripes says:

                      The only reason they get away this this crap is that it’s not required by law for them to include captions. THAT IS THE ONLY REASON.

                      Even if a show is available for FREE on over-the-air-TV it is still required by law to include captions.

                      Again, people are upset about this because this is part of a larger problem of online distributers being lazy and cheap, because they don’t have a law requiring them to include captions.

                      THAT is what is being discussed.

                      Stop thinking in such a black & white, rigid way. This kind of thing is a PERSUASIVE problem and that, my friend, is what people are trying to fight against, by speaking out.

                      Fine, you may think it’s rude for deaf people to ask for reasonable accommodations, but I think you’re being a huge dick, sitting quite cozy in your place of privilege.

                • little stripes says:

                  And, no, it is not rude for deaf people to ask for reasonable accommodations so that they can enjoy the movie like you and I do.

                  What a load of privileged crap.

                  Let me guess: You’re not deaf nor do you really know anyone who is.

                  • eldergias says:

                    There is no room to reply to the comment above, so I will put it here.

                    At no time in this discussion have I slung any insults at you or at the deaf community. The worst that I have said is that people are being “rude”, which I have backed up by several examples. That was the harshest thing I said. Perhaps you should take a long look in the mirror if you feel you should resort to name calling to bolster your argument. If you believe that is how you have a civil discussion, you are mistaken.

                    • little stripes says:

                      Waaah, you’re a dick and I call you out and you cry about it. I think you’ll survive.

              • eldergias says:

                “Waaah, you’re a dick and I call you out and you cry about it. I think you’ll survive”

                Thank you for showing everyone here your true maturity level. Not even you can defend name calling as mature. Whether or not you are willing to admit it, you are being immature.

                Per the Rational Discussion Flowchart, you have lost this discussion. http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/rational-discussion-flowchart/

    • Laura Northrup says:

      Try the automatically generated captions on YouTube sometime. They’re comically awful.

  5. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    This is something I really dislike about Netflix – and I’m glad they’re currently in a suit about it and I hope it goes against Netflix. Even though I can hear, there are some movies that are just unintelligible, or its late and I don’t want to wake up the whole house by having the volume up. Subtitles are kind of necessary for everyone.

  6. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    So what happens when the Sundance channel decides it’s not worth the time/energy/money to provide the captions and instead just pulls the shows off their website? No more “discrimination” I guess…

    • eldergias says:

      Exactly. The accusation of discrimination only exists because Sundance chose to release some of its content for free online, it was not obligated to do so, it could have left watching the show on TV as the only means of viewing it. This appears to penalize them for that decision. If they pull the free access to the content, then there is no unequal treatment but then a lot of people who currently benefit lose out. Such a move would only hurt the viewers who currently watch the show for free online, not Sundance itself.

  7. dush says:

    They couldn’t watch the show because they are deaf? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

  8. Cerne says:

    My God! Imagine having to pay to watch a television show!

    • Auron says:

      This would be similar to a mall/store saying that if you can walk in your own 2 legs (no crutches/wheelchairs/walkers/etc) you can use the normal entrance for free. But if you require a device to help you get around, you would need to use our “special” entrance that costs $3 to use.

      • eldergias says:

        Don’t use a straw-man argument. Your example is nothing like what is going on here. Your example regards public access to a public facility. This situation regards a company giving away something for free to the public and some people saying that they don’t like what is being given away for free, they want something more. The company has no obligation to give anything away for free in the first place, and in the second place no one has any right to demand something free from any company that has not already promised to give away said item for free.

        • little stripes says:

          Do you know what a “strawman argument” is? Because … that was not it. That was an analogy. Maybe it’s not a perfect one, but it’s still not a strawman argument.

          • eldergias says:

            A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

            Perhaps I was wrong and it is not a straw-man argument? The above definition seems applicable to the post I responded to. A bad example could also be a straw-man argument by misrepresenting a position then refuting it. That seems to be what Auron did, but I am fallible, so this is just my take on the situation.

        • little stripes says:

          And no one DEMANDED anything.

          • eldergias says:

            You are correct, I misused that word. No one is demanding anything. They are saying that they should be given something for free, not demanding it.

            • little stripes says:

              I’m going to repeat what I said above:

              No one is necessarily demanding anything and I don’t know if this is something that would be illegal or agains the disabilities act, but it’s still a dick move.

              And this brings me to a question: If this movie wasn’t free and you had to pay for it, would the captions still be sold separately? That’s important, I think.

              Neither is great. Both scenarios require you to pay more for the privilege of being deaf.

              How the captions are distributed is what is important, not whether or not the movie is being given away for free.

              • eldergias says:

                “How the captions are distributed is what is important, not whether or not the movie is being given away for free.”

                And here is the crux of where we disagree. Because it is free this is a different beast to me. It is rude to criticize someone for not giving you the gift you want/need/like. If this was an issue of them not having closed captions on the show on TV, or on the DVD then we would be having a different discussion. But here the public is being handed a gift and some of the public are saying, “this isn’t good enough.” When you were a kid, did your parents ever tell you that you should just accept a gift and say thank you? (not attacking your up bringing, honestly asking) I know as a kid I questioned gift givers a couple of times until I was taught that it is rude to do so. If you pay for something, you should get what you want, go and vote with your money as we do in a capitalist system. There should be something available to everybody, to have the option to get what you want in exchange for money. But saying, “someone else got something for free, I want something for free too but it needs to be different and suit my needs” is the same thing I was taught as a kid not to do, it is rude.

                • little stripes says:

                  Programs aired on TV are still required to be captioned, but streaming video online…not so much.

                  Over the air TV is FREE! and yet they are still REQUIRED BY LAW to provide captions.

                  Funny, that.

                  This is the same situation.

                  Stop getting so damn stuck on the fact that it’s free.

                  Captions should have been included. Period. The end.

                  And people are upset that they aren’t, so they are speaking out. Which is both how our fine country and consumerism works.

                  And, no, it’s not rude for deaf people to accept reasonable accommodations, especially considering that if this was broadcast on TV (FOR FREE!), it would be REQUIRED BY LAW to include the captions.

                  Companies are getting away with being lazy because it’s not required for them to require captions. THAT IS A PROBLEM. That is what this discussion is largely about. This is a very persuasive problem, and this is only one little example.

                  Deaf people are rightfully pissed.

                  The fact that you think it’s rude makes it pretty clear that you are speaking about this problem from your place of privilege, and not actually considering the greater ramifications of this sort of behavior.

                  It’s not rude to want reasonable accommodations.

                  • eldergias says:

                    Well, it seems we disagree on a fundamental point that we are not likely to resolve (see my other response above).

                    • little stripes says:

                      You’re a privileged dick, that’s for sure, who only cares that deaf people are “being rude” by asking for reasonable accommodations that are, IN EVERY OTHER FORM OF MEDIA, required by law.

                  • MeriJo says:

                    Sundance isn’t a free channel. Anyone who watches the show on TV is paying for that privilege. I agree with eldergias; it’s a bonus and an extra that the show is (temporarily) available online. If users are unhappy with/unable to watch the free version, there is a suitable alternative.

  9. HRGirl wants a cookie says:

    Le Sigh, I’m seeing a lot of comments about the legalities of the situation and should Sundance “have to” caption the free video, but no one has mentioned that to not do so is just plain ‘ol poor business practice. Persons with disabilities have so few positive role models in the media (anyone who mentions Corky from Life Goes On can go play in traffic). To finally have a show with strong role models and not have it accessible to people with a variety of conditions is irresponsible. They’re creating barriers for the very target audience they should be courting.
    According to the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (http://wave.webaim.org/) , the Sundance Homepage itself has 80 barriers to people with disabilities who may be using a screen-reader or alternative input device.

    Consumerist, your homepage is not much better. Please hire a consultant, stat.

    • little stripes says:

      To finally have a show with strong role models and not have it accessible to people with a variety of conditions is irresponsible.

      YES! Exactly! Maybe it’s not illegal, but it’s still a really dick move. Doesn’t ANYONE trying to argue about how awful deaf people are for asking for pretty basic accommodations find it at all ironic that a movie about people with disabilities isn’t easily accessible for people with a disability?!

      Marlee Matlin would be pissed, and rightfully so.

      Fine, fine, maybe it’s not illegal and they can do whatever they want, but seriously, again, dick move.

    • little stripes says:

      And isn’t this how consumerism is supposed to work?

      Their target audience is not happy, and they are voicing their opinions. They are losing sales. This is how this shit WORKS.

      • little stripes says:

        And I mean they are losing sales but I imagine that deaf people are going to be far less likely to watch anything from Sundance again.

        If they can’t be bothered to provide reasonable accommodations then I can’t be bothered to care about them.

  10. wildwill2002 says:

    Okay, I will now explain why this is not discrimination. Sundance channel is not offering CCs on their FREE streaming service (which they don’t have to offer in the first place). It could be a variety of reasons, the most likely one being that their online player doesn’t have the ability to display them. The alternative is iTunes, which does have CCs, but, being a different company, is charging for the videos (which they would naturally do because unlike Sundance Channel, which is already making money just by you browsing their website and looking at their adverts, iTunes has to make money somehow). Now, the best analogy I can come up with for this scenario would be like a blind man going to a library for a book, but can’t find a version in braille so he instead has to go to a specialty book store for a braille version and pay 20 bucks. That is clearly not discrimination, it’s simply charging you for something that costs more money to produce. If you want to complain about anything, you can say that Sundance Channel should provide the CCs on their website but they are under NO obligation to do so since the free episodes are an added bonus. People crying discrimination and creating these ridiculous false analogies should think before they comment.

  11. scantron says:

    Because it costs money, actual money to add captions to things. Not an unsubstantial amount either (the recent netflix suit said 700-800 for a movie).

    Fellow commenters you do NOT want a law saying all streaming video has to have this added because it will make things more expensive, selection scarcer (think of all those old 40s and 50s movies that netflix has streaming because the rights cost them nothing… I promise you they’ll drop everything rare from their streaming in a heartbeat if it goes through) and free things… gone. My guess is that itunes paid themselves to add the captions as part of the distribution agreement.

    Accessibiltiy features are a feature that costs money like anything else and a reasonable consumer should expect to pay for them as such.