Marlee Matlin Calls Out Delta for Lack of Access to Closed Captioning for Deaf Pa

 Industry News     |     January 07, 2020
Marlee Matlin giving speech Araya Diaz/Getty Images

Academy Award-winning actor and deaf activist Marlee Matlin is pointing out some big flaws a certain airline has when it comes to providing service and access to deaf passengers, USA Today reported.

Traveling with a disability is even harder than you think, which is why many airlines are taking steps to provide access for everyone, including blind, deaf, or physically challenged passengers.

Even cabin crew have been taking it upon themselves to provide service and accessibility for all passengers. One flight attendant even sent a deaf passenger a note to help them feel at ease about their travel plans.

But such progress can be slow, or even fall short.

That’s why Matlin, seen in "Children of a Lesser God" and "Switched at Birth" wrote a post on Twitter calling out Delta Air Lines for not providing closed captioning on the in-flight entertainment system, according to USA Today.

Matlin wrote, “Sad to see that my preferred airline, [Delta] flight 1998 has provisions for various languages and audio description for in-flight entertainment but no closed captions for deaf and hard of hearing flyers.”

Matlin punctuated her post by adding the hashtag #ADACompliance, which is a call for Delta to comply with guidelines mapped out by the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA requires businesses (like airlines), as well as federal, state, and local governments to provide access and prohibit discrimination based on disability. Many conditions and disabilities are covered by the ADA, including the hearing impaired.

Delta responded on Twitter, pointing out that some flights do have closed captioning, and saying, “Thanks for keeping us accountable as we work to create more inclusive experiences. Most of our aircraft w/ seatback screens have closed captioning. We apologize that your flight does not have this feature yet & we appreciate your patience as we work to upgrade our fleet.”

Delta added that the airline has an option for deaf passengers on the Gogo Entertainment app to allow for closed captioning.

Although an apology is nice, Matlin was not satisfied with Delta’s dismissal of her complaint, pointing out that audio description (for the blind) is available in-flight but not closed captioning. She added that there is no way for deaf passengers to know to download the Gogo Entertainment app if they want to access in-flight entertainment.

According to USA Today, Delta Air Lines has not yet responded to Matlin’s second tweet.

Hopefully, Matlin’s work will spark some real change for the hearing impaired. As many people pointed out on Twitter, it’s not just deaf passengers who prefer or rely on closed captioning. People with incompatible headphones, people who have some hearing impairment and don’t want to make it worse, and people who do not want to wear headsets for the entire flight also want closed captioning to be available on flights.