Is it getting harder to hear the programs on TV? If so, you might want to lobby your city to follow the example of Seattle.
Starting later this month, the city will require all public accommodations that display televisions (such as bars, restaurants, gyms, and stadiums) to program those television so that the closed-captioning feature is always on.
The law, which the Seattle City Council passed unanimously, is designed to benefit residents who are hearing impaired or elderly, as well as those with learning disabilities or autism, or who are learning English as a second language.
As the Seattle Spokesman-Review notes, federal and state law already requires establishments to switch on closed captioning when patrons request it.
However, “It’s important to shift the onus from having to request closed captions (and) to instead create the expectation that folks have it in advance,” Council Member Lisa Herbold, the law’s sponsor, said in a statement.
Inspired by an organizing push by the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities, the law will take effect later on in May.
Enforcement, however, isn’t expected to begin for six months: As reported by the Spokesman-Review, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, needs time to train businesses about the new law and possibly hire an additional employee to enforce it.
Once it’s enforced, any noncomplying business will initially receive an advisory letter, with a further violation resulting in a fine of up to $125. Fine amounts could increase with continued non-compliance.