City of Plano passes resolution on closed captions for public TVs

Photo by Amit Lahav on Unsplash.
After a deaf Plano resident struggled to read lips on a public TV, the City of Plano adopted a resolution requiring closed captioning.

On May 22, the City of Plano passed a resolution, effective immediately, that has implemented the use of closed captioning on all television screens within city facilities.

The City recommends that all businesses within the city with public-facing TV screens do the same to benefit not only people with any variety of disabilities, but also those who are learning English and allowing the general public to understand programs being shown in loud places.  

The idea for this proposal was formed by Plano resident Meryl Evans, who was born deaf, after trying to watch TV at a local restaurant while out for dinner with friends, but could not follow along with the program due to the restaurant not having closed captions.

After the experience, Evans discovered that the mayor of Boston signed an order into law that requires public-facing TVs to utilize closed captioning. She then emailed Plano City Manager Mark Israelson and Plano Mayor John Muns detailing her experience and including a link to an article about the ordinance in Boston. Evans told the Dallas Morning News that Israelson responded swiftly, and months later her proposal was adopted as a formal resolution. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  requires that the captions are accurate and match the spoken words in dialogue, as well as conveying background noise and other sounds to the fullest extent possible. 

Captions also must  be synchronous and coincide with the spoken words and sounds, be displayed at a speed that can be read by viewers, run from the beginning to the end of the program and be properly placed.

Evans is also working with fellow Plano resident and disability advocate Dylan Rafaty to push for closed-captioning on public-facing TVs in 99 other Texas cities, including Dallas, Sachse and Celina, where traction has already been made.

“I don’t want just Plano to do it,” said Rafaty, who started the North Texas Disability Chamber, in an interview with the Dallas Morning News. ” I don’t want us just to be the seventh city in America to do this. We need to get more Texas cities involved.”

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