Closed captioning for the hearing impaired is coming to St Augustine’s streaming video of City Commission meetings when viewed on-demand; typically, a day or two after the meeting is held.
More than 15% of Americans are hearing impaired and St Augustine is home to the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, leading Historic City News reporters to ask why it took so long to implement closed captioning.
“We have wanted to offer closed captioning for some time,” City Clerk Darlene Galambos wrote in an e-mail received today. “This year, funds for the service were budgeted.”
Closed captioning not budgeted? And, not made available on live city commission broadcasts, or archived meetings of the Planning and Zoning Board, Historic Architectural Review Board, Mobility Advisory Task Force, or other special meetings?
Knowing what we know about how easy it is to display text translation to video as it is verbally spoken, we looked further to determine just how significant an investment the city is making with its streaming video vendor, Swagit Productions, LLC., a Texas company. We learned that Swagit Productions can provide closed captioning for both live and archived meetings upon request.
Many communities include text captions on all public meetings; not only to help residents that may be deaf or hard of hearing, but also to adhere to the requirements of accessibility legislation, like the Americans with Disabilities Act. We know this because Galambos also wrote, specifically, “We are confident this new service will be appreciated by the community and we will certainly provide broader access for the public.”
The City of St Augustine does not own its own Internet streaming video server, nor do they have any employees capable of managing a video broadcast studio. Swagit is a good vendor with a lot of government customers including St Johns County. The cost of adding closed captioning to streaming video is not free. However, for Swagit customers like the City who already subscribe to an annual video service contract, according to the company, the cost is nominal.
Starting with last Monday’s City Commission meeting, the announcement says closed captioning will be available on “sort of a trial-run” if you are viewing a previous meet on-demand. To see the new service in action, visit www.CityStAugTV.com and click on “City Commission”. Select the most recent meeting, April 24. Turn the captioning on, or off, by clicking the icon in the upper right of the screen.