The city council unanimously passed the ordinance at its Dec. 7 meeting
Mayor Michelle Wu signed an ordinance last Friday requiring public places in the city of Boston, such as restaurants, bars, banks and gyms, to enable closed captioning on any televisions in public spaces. The ordinance, sponsored by Council President Ed Flynn, was unanimously approved by the Boston City Council this week with the goal of removing barriers in public spaces related to communication access for people with disabilities.
“Improving communication access in public spaces across Boston is truly critical for everyone in Boston,” he said. Mayor Michelle Wu. “This ordinance removes barriers for people with disabilities, and I am grateful to the Commission on Disabilities, the Disability Advisory Board and the entire Boston City Council for their leadership and advocacy.”
“This regulation ensures that persons with disabilities have full access to information and resources shared with the public,” he said Council President Flynn. “I want to thank my City Council colleagues, Mayor Wu and Commissioner McCosh for their leadership and advocacy work on this issue. It is a step towards accessibility. We will continue to focus on equity for people with disabilities and visitors. Disability rights are civil rights.”
When businesses turn on the “Titles” function on their TVs, a live transcript of the program’s audio content scrolls across the bottom of the screen. Enabling visible captions can remove a significant communication barrier for people with hearing and other disabilities. It also benefits the general public as it increases access to information in crowded and noisy commercial spaces, where it is difficult to hear.
“Lack of access to communication on TVs in public places existed before Covid-19, but it is now recognized as an important issue of equity,” he said. Disability Commissioner Kristen McCosh. “All televisions have the ability to run closed captioning for broadcasts, and cable and streaming services provide captioning, so it’s completely free for businesses. This directive is a win-win that will ensure Boston’s businesses are more accessible and more welcoming to thousands of residents, workers and visitors. Our dedicated I would like to thank the members of the Disability Advisory Board, past and present, for their advocacy on this issue, especially our Chair, Wesley Ireland.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, television stations broadcast daily or weekly municipal press conferences, major public health announcements, breaking news reports, emergency warnings, and other important information and timely instructions related to the response to the pandemic. However, the deaf community, the hearing impaired, the deaf elderly, those with developmental or sensory disabilities, and those who speak a language other than English may not have access to audible content.
In 2020, then board member Wesley Ireland raised the issue of needing titles at a monthly advisory board meeting. After discussion, the board asked the Disability Commission to examine how other municipalities have handled it. The commission examined half a dozen cities and a state that had established uniform title requirements and worked with other departments to develop a plan. The proposal was further developed after a City Council hearing in November 2021.
“I’m excited to see Boston join the ranks of big cities like Seattle and San Francisco that require headlines on public-facing television.” Wesley Ireland, Chair of the Disability Advisory Board. “It’s an equity issue I’ve had in the past and it’s finally resolved.”
The Commission on Disabilities will work with other city departments, including the Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion and the Office of Neighborhood Services, to reach out to businesses throughout the city with information about the new ordinance. The Commission will help businesses come into compliance by providing resources to enable topics.
“This is an important moment in our small businesses’ ongoing push to ensure that all our spaces are inclusive,” he said. Segun Idowu, Head of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. “Our board is committed to helping our small businesses be accessible to all. I am grateful to Commissioner McCosh and the Disability Commission and Disability Advisory Board for leading this forward.”
The Commission will assist businesses by providing resources on how to operate the titles in an effort to help businesses comply. For more information and future updates regarding captioning in public spaces, please visit City’s Commission on Disability website.