A victory was achieved for deaf and hard of hearing consumers in Washington State as a new law which took effect last month mandates that all businesses with forward-facing TVs are now required to always provide closed captioning in public places of accommodation. This includes restaurants, bars, salons/barber shops, hotel lobbies, waiting rooms, or any public place. As a significant breakthrough in creating accessibility for deaf people, this will make Washington one of the most deaf-friendly states in the country.
Closed captions are a simple but effective way to make deaf and hard-of-hearing people feel welcome at your establishment. Most people struggle to understand television in loud places, but closed captioning helps solve this. Closed captioning also benefits those whose first language is not English. In addition, closed captioning ensures that important weather and emergency information is fully accessible to all.
It is no secret that Direct Access’ founder and director Steven Mifsud is profoundly deaf himself, and our expertise, rooted in experience as people with disabilities allows us to provide a variety of reliable and accessible formats and communication services. We provide everything from Audio description and transcription services to sign language and subtitled videos, utilizing in-house sign language interpreters and media studios to guide businesses to full ADA compliance.
The Senate Bill 5027 was sponsored by Washington State Senators: Senator Mike Padden (R), Senator Jesse Salomon (D), Senator Sam Hunt (D) Senator Liz Lovelett, Senator Derek Stanford (D), Senator Claire Wilson (D), and was written as an amendment to the existing Washington State Law Against Discrimination RCW 49.60.
The passing of this bill now ensures that the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the business as opposed to the consumer. Businesses in Washington have until October 23, 2021, to be in full compliance with the bill, which is available here.