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Issue: Captioning in Public Places

CaptionMNnow hashtag with CC icon and yellow background

Deaf and hard of hearing customers often encounter difficulties when asking an establishment to activate the captions for a TV in a public place. Closed captioning makes TV programming accessible to Minnesotans who are deaf and hard of hearing. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III (external link), restaurants and other businesses are required to turn on the captioning upon request. Many businesses, however, are not aware of this requirement.

This especially creates challenges when a large-scale emergency situation arises and emergency information is being broadcast over all public televisions. When the captioning is deactivated, many people are cut off from this vital information source.

Who is affected?

Any Minnesotan who cannot clearly hear the TV audio, including those in environments that restrict noise level or have high background noise.

What is the proposed solution?

Closed captioning is good for business (PDF)!

The Commission, in collaboration with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) - Twin Cities Chapter (external link), the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens (MADC) (external link) and Minnesota Hands & Voices (external link), have started a campaign asking local businesses to take the Closed Captioning Pledge, promising to activate closed captioning on their TVs at all times.

Businesses who take this pledge are added to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Friendly Businesses list.

Pro tip for business owners: did you know that closed captioning has changed? Federal Communications Commission (FCC) quality standards (external link) prohibit captions from blocking other important visual content on the screen. Televised live sporting events, for example, often display the closed captioning at the top of the screen and no longer block the scores.

Timeline

8/31/15: Campaign launched

How can I get involved?

Ask your local businesses to sign the pledge (PDF) and let them know that there’s a strong business case for captioning (PDF)! Or stop by MNCDHH to pick up some #captionMNnow business cards to keep in your purse or wallet.

To promote our online activities and help spread awareness, use our hashtag: #captionMNnow!

Resources

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Friendly Businesses list

Sign the pledge (PDF)

The Business Case for Turning On Captions (PDF)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III (external link)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Captioning Quality Standards (external link)

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