Councilmember Herbold championed increased accessibility to public meetings
Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle, South Park), who has led efforts related to disabilities-related issues since first being elected in 2015, is pleased to announce the addition of real-time captioning by Seattle Channel to its live cable TV broadcasts of City Council meetings, including committee and special meetings. Closed-captioned Council meetings will also be archived for playback on the air and online at seattlechannel.org and Seattle Channel’s YouTube site.
“Until now, hard-of-hearing individuals were essentially shut out of the conversation altogether because they could not hear the discussion as it was taking place,” said Councilmember Herbold. “Accessibility is an important part of our democracy. All viewers, regardless of their abilities, should be able to see or hear the interactions and conversations that occur in any public City Council meeting,” Councilmember Herbold said. “With the addition of real-time captioning, these very same individuals will be able to follow along by reading the ‘transcript’ of the meeting as it occurs, thereby ensuring an equal opportunity to participate in our Democracy. I hope to, in the future, expand closed captioning to all of the Seattle Channel’s programming so hard-of hearing individuals can appreciate all of Seattle Channel’s fantastic civic programing.”
Seattle Channel selected VITAC, a national captioning company, through a competitive process. Closed captioning improves government transparency and accessibility by making content available to more people, particularly viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Captions can also improve comprehension for some, including second-language viewers.
“Seattle Channel is pleased to add captioning to Seattle City Council meetings,” said Shannon Gee, Seattle Channel general manager. “Captioning adds to our mission to provide transparent and increased access to government, and it supports the City’s digital equity goals. We thank Councilmember Herbold for her support and advocacy.”
The addition of closed captioning is part of the Seattle City Council’s objective to increase accessibility to Seattle government. The Seattle City Clerk provides accommodations to Council meetings, including translation and interpretation services, and the Council Chamber is equipped with assisted listening devices and an induction loop system.
“We want community members to be able to access all of the information that’s being shared and discussed at these important public meetings,” said Eric Scheir, who is deaf and serves on the City of Seattle’s Commission for People with disAbilities, which included captioning among the highest priorities in its work plan. “Closed captioning will provide a better experience for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. This is an exciting development as we continue to work to make it easy and possible for all community members to participate in local government.”
Seattle Channel, an award-winning municipal television station, is available to cable television subscribers in Seattle on channel 21 on Comcast (321 HD) and Wave (721 HD) and on CenturyLink channel 8003 (8503 HD). Programming is also available live on the web at www.seattlechannel.org), which includes a robust archive of thousands of programs available on demand.