‘Subtitles must be available for everything that can be seen.’

Stefan HabingExpert by experience in subtitles
Portrait of Stefan with a yellow field around it. Right next to it is in yellow quotes. I think that lyrics in films and series should also be subtitled.


Stefan Habing is 29 years old and lives in Hoogkerk, near Groningen. He works at Kentalis as an office assistant. The Royal Kentalis offers care and guidance to the deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind and people who have a language development disorder or communicative multiple disability. Stefan himself became hard of hearing around the age of fourteen. Sound distorts in such a way that it seems to him that people are speaking a different language. Hearing aids do not help, because they do not make the sound clearer, only louder. Stefan has had a cochlear implant for about five years, a hearing prosthesis with an external and internal part that directly electrically stimulates the auditory nerve. The brain then has to translate this electrical stimulation into an understandable sound signal. Because it only helps partially and can be tiring and noisy, he no longer wears it. Stefan visits the youth activities and camps of SH-Jong and Let's Talk. These are organizations that set up activities for hearing-impaired young people. He also often plays board games with his friends and likes to play sports.

What do you like to watch?

‘I really like to watch movies and series, especially action series and adventure movies. That could be through the TV. Usually I watch live. But I also use a lot of different streaming services. To be precise, I use Netflix, Videoland, Amazon Prime, HBO Max and Viaplay. Most streaming services offer subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing with English or foreign language films. I also use Live Transcribe, which converts audio directly into text.’

‘I think that lyrics in films and series should also be subtitled.’

What was a pleasant, accessible viewing experience?

‘Netflix is ​​head and shoulders above the rest for me. On this platform, most films and series are provided with subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. As a deaf or hard-of-hearing person, this streaming service offers you the largest selection and the most choice.’

What do you experience when the content you want to watch is not accessible?

‘While Netflix provides almost all productions with subtitles, it often happens at Videoland that Dutch films do not contain subtitles. Then I simply can't watch those movies, because I can't follow any of them. That is regrettable. I don't watch productions without subtitles. That means that I do miss a few things, to my regret. What I also regularly miss is subtitles of lyrics. I would like to see all sung text from songs in films and series subtitled.’

What needs to be done to make video makers and content providers more aware of the need for video accessibility?

‘Subtitles must be available for everything that can be seen. The subtitles must also be available via Teletext 888 for every television channel. Now that is only available for Dutch-language programs on public broadcasting channels. But sports viewers with a hearing impairment have a more difficult time, because Viaplay on ZiggoSport and ESPN do not provide any form of subtitling. I do have a good tip for the Formula 1 fan: writing interpreter Davy de Bruijn makes live subtitles for broadcasts during race weekends. On a computer you can view these subtitles together with the video images, via the overlay function. This also makes this sport accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing.’

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