Little Things for a Better World

Things like this:

I have subtitles turned on in Netflix by default. I can hear fine. It’s not that obtrusive, but if it became an industry standard, it’d be even less so, because filmmakers would learn to take them into account.

That’s the funny thing about accessibility modifications – many people who don’t need them can still take advantage of them. Sometimes it improves safety for everyone.

This thread isn’t just about making the world more accessible. It’s about the small things that can make a huge difference.


And don’t put the second line of the subtitles below a widescreen picture, so you can zoom it out to get a big picture.


Today I saw How to Cook That YouTube channel is putting emojis into their subtitles. I didn’t even know you could do that. I thought it showed so much care for their audience.


That one irritates me, because I can still understand them even though they’ve switched languages. And usually they are saying something pretty damn important in the other language. Only now, my subtitles are gone, and the people who need the subtitles more than I do are SOL.

It could be worse. It could be a foreign language course, and the subtitle for the entire thing is “speaking in Gujarati”


I’ve never been clear on the efficacy of cooking shows. The ones I know from TV all run like this:

“Today we’re going to show you a simple recipe for beginners. So, we whip up a little spice blend of thyme-basil-oregano-marjoram-fenugreek-sassafras-shoe-leather-eye-of-newt, and combine it with our main ingredients using this whizbang kitchen gadget that’s way outside your price range for something you’ll only use once this year. Then, instead of demonstrating the key parts of our technique, we’ll just skip all that and assume it’s already been done and have the props department wheel out a perfectly cooked meal.”

So basically, my little things for a better cooking show are:

  1. Proper understanding of skill levels*
  2. Explanation of flavor profiles
  3. No reliance on whizbang doodads or on hard to find ingredients**
  4. Demonstration of technique

*Braciole is not “easy”, end of story
**I’ve once driven 50 miles across Southern Ohio trying to find veal, because nobody knew what it was


I would recommend Alton Brown’s “Good Eats.” His presentation is a bit “Myth Busters” but he approaches cooking scientifically. He makes the best brined turkey.


So long as they can be turned off again. If there are subtitles, I will read them, and if I disagree with the transcription (or translation as the case may be) it will bother me enough to pull me out of the film. I will miss on-screen action because I’m double-reading subtitles.

I do like the idea of a section of the screen being allocated for them, though.


How to Cook That is a baking show, mostly for anything chocolate. Over the years, these YouTubers have found that their market is children, so their cakes have become more and more fanciful. The instructions are really clear, though elaborate. I think most of the YouTube baking channels are more for the fun of watching than for anyone to really follow along.


Cutting that Operation cake must be a lot of fun


I really like this channel. She does a great job of giving instructions. Even though all the stuff is over the top insane to try to do, you do feel like you have all the information you need to try it on your own.


I have a hard time following instructions on videos; I watched a video on how to clean an inkjet printer, and ended up writing down the instructions. I would have preferred it written down with pictures to begin with. But that was all I could find.


Well, they might be hard to turn off at the theatre, but at home shouldn’t be a problem. But if a) the subtitles were written as part of production and not just an afterthought and b) there was dedicated space for them, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem. You could avoid watching that space, and they’d be more accurate.

A good portion of the problems with subtitles is that they are (right now) considered to be an afterthought/add-on, for a group of people that many are willing to dismiss the needs of pr provide for half-assedly. The more mainstream something becomes, the better it gets.




Oy. No. That would pretty much kill cinema viewing for me.

If there is text, I will read it, and not pay attention to anything else. It’s pretty compulsive, and I’ve done it since I learned how to read when I was 3.

Film-watching only at home, and possibly only with pre-released films then.


Let’s not, please. I find subtitles to be extremely distracting in all but a pretty narrow set of circumstances.

I’m in the same boat. If it’s there, I almost have to read it.

Any text large enough and bright enough to be useful as subtitles is going to be distracting. It’s a visual medium, so I can’t imagine how you can add a high-contrast visual element to the picture and expect me to avoid looking at it.

I’m all for making movies and other things more accessible for deaf people, but I don’t think the best way to go about that is to treat everyone as if they’re deaf whether they are or not.

It feels like calls to “normalize X” are sometimes ambiguous about the meaning of “normal”. Do they mean normal as in “unsurprising and/or no big deal if you happen to encounter it” normal? Or normal as in “statistically likely or common for a given population” normal? Or both?

I’d argue that subtitles are already normal in the first sense. They’ve been around forever, everybody understands what they are, and there’s nothing weird or mysterious about encountering them. But we don’t turn them on everywhere by default because most people, under normal circumstances, don’t need them.

Going back to the movie theater scenario, I don’t know how common this is, but the AMCs around here have these:

I didn’t even know they were a thing until I saw someone using one. It took me a minute to figure out what it was, but once I did I thought it was a fairly clever solution.


I’d agree that subtitles shouldn’t be the default in theaters. Perhaps they could be there but only visible with recyclable glasses given out at the theater (like for 3D).

We do use them at home, more for backup than anything else, so I wish they could be more careful about timing – having the subtitle appear before the person says it sort of spoils it (especially for joke punchlines).

But then, having words pop up one by one might be distracting. I don’t know what the answer is. More research!


At the Metropolitan Ipera, they have small screens on the back of seats with subtitles. You can choose the language, or turn them off. They are designed so others cannot view them; they are only visible to people directly to your left and right.


I couldn’t switch focus from far to near in a movie theater – I have separate distance, computer, and reading glasses. (Progressives don’t work for me. Bifocals might.)



I have a pair of progressives lenses, but there’s a lot of distortion and they’re somehow still not strong enough. I typically use a pair of single vision cheapo lenses that I’ve ordered in bulk, which are just strong enough to get me to my contacts in the morning. I never really wore contacts until I needed bifocals, and now I find them indispensable.


Not a problem for opera though.

(typical opera score)

I love her
I love her
I love her
I love her
I love her

What a scoundrel he is!
What a scoundrel he is!
What a scoundrel he is, is, is, is, is, is, is!