The 10-hour challenge played out on the live feeds, which are streamed on Pluto TV. Per the rules, the houseguests were tasked to see who could keep a button pressed the longest with various distractions surrounding them. The participants were only able to stand or squat as long as they kept hold of the button. Shortly after getting started, Big Brother switched the lights off.
“I can’t see or hear now,” Matt, 27, could be heard saying during the competition, per clips shared via social media.
Fans immediately took to the online platforms and claimed that CBS did not accommodate Matt, who holds a world record in swimming for deaf athletes, by choosing to have the game played in the dark.
“This is so cruel because he is missing out on much-needed conversations that all the other houseguests are getting to have,” a social media user said in a Friday TikTok while watching the feeds. “A deaf person in the dark, um?”
Other TikTok users lamented that it was unfair that CBS “took away” one of his senses, rendering him unable to read lips without the lights.
“As someone with 2 deaf parents & a big BB fan — I am so disappointed in the lack of accessibility he has had this season,” another fan commented.
CBS has yet to address the fans’ concerns — the challenge is scheduled to conclude during the Sunday, August 27, episode — but did accommodate Matt before the lights were switched off.
Earlier during the challenge, alum Kaysar Ridha appeared via video to deliver further instructions to the houseguests. After Kaysar, 43, finished speaking, Big Brother played a closed-caption version of his speech for Matt.
Matt is Big Brother’s first deaf competitor, which sparked fan outrage earlier this month after he was tasked with participating in an audio-centered Veto competition. Us Weekly subsequently confirmed that a hearing-impaired game tester conducted trial runs of all games in advance to make sure that Matt would be able to play.
“It’s an incredibly complex system that we have here that involves a lot of audio and a lot of people behind the scenes talking to people in the house, talking to people in the Diary Room, talking to people in the yard,” Big Brother executive producer Allison Grodner told Entertainment Weekly earlier in August. “And so we had to figure out how we were going do that with Matt.”
She added: “We had our show doctor get in touch with his specific audiologist because every person is different in how they hear. And so we needed to know specifically what levels he was able to function with and what would be best for him. It turned out that some of the lower baritone voices were easier for him to hear.”
Big Brother airs on CBS Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.