Enable closed captioning on public-facing TVs

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An ordinance passed this summer by the City of Ann Arbor requires closed captioning to be activated on all televisions in places of public accommodation. On campus, those places include waiting rooms, clinics, event spaces, and other public gathering areas. Campus IT professionals often have access to AV equipment like televisions, and can help make a difference to make sure television content in their units is accessible to all.

“Making sure businesses have captioning activated on their TVs is a small but meaningful way we can be more accessible, especially for our aging and hearing-impaired population,” said city council member, Kirk Westphal, D-2nd Ward, a liaison to the disability commission who sponsored the ordinance.

“Captioning has a positive impact far beyond accessibility.”
–Jane Berliss-Vincent

The ordinance took effect July 1, 2017, and does not require TVs to be powered on. However, if a TV is on, the closed captioning feature must be enabled. If the TV does not have the capability, it does not need to be replaced.

“Providing captioning has a positive impact far beyond accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing individuals,” said Jane Berliss-Vincent, assistive technology manager at U-M Information and Technology Services. “It’s been shown to make comprehension easier for some people with learning disabilities, individuals who speak English as an additional language, and, of course, anyone in a noisy environment.”

Read the complete Ann Arbor City Notice (PDF) for more detail.

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