BOISE, Idaho — Television is a part of everyday life for many, but it may not be accessible for everyone.
A bill from one Idaho senator plans to add closed captioning to all TVs in public venues to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
“Historically, deaf and hard of hearing individuals have struggled for access in any venue of their life, and one area they typically struggle is access to public televisions, especially because those captions are typically not engaged,” Idaho Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Executive Director Steven Snow said.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 102 looks to change that by requiring closed captions in public venues in Idaho.
Public places like a restaurant, gym, or airports typically have TVs but might not have closed captioning, making them less accessible for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. That could cause them to possibly miss important information.
“With the creation of this bill, this would help spread awareness to businesses and organizations and encourage them to turn on those closed captions. It's a simple step. It's really just one click of a button, and it would make their space much more deaf-friendly,” Snow said.
Bill sponsor Senator Jeff Agenbroad said in a statement:
It was my honor to work with a constituent and the Director of the Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to sponsor SCR 102.
This resolution, recommends the use of the Closed Captioning feature on all public-facing televisions. The resolution brings awareness of a simple tool that will have a positive impact on the lives of many Idahoans. Hearing loss is a part of life for many Idahoans and affects more Idahoans than any other disability. One in five Americans over 12 years old suffer from some level of hearing loss.
Closed captioning also improves full communication for many who don’t suffer hearing loss, but may be learning the English language or just learning to read. All modern TVs have this feature and broadcasters provide closed captioning programming.
There is no cost to comply with this resolution and it is as easy as flipping a switch.
“I think this would be a huge victory for the deaf community. It shows that their access is equal to every other patron who accesses those public venues. They would be valued as a citizen,” Snow said.
The Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing says it's a simple click of a button that could help make so many more spaces accessible to more people.
“Deaf and hard of hearing individuals are members of this community just like anyone else and they deserve to have equal access to information. They would feel like the community would respect and value them, so that definitely would fill that gap,” Snow said.