TVs in Public Spots in Watertown to be Required to Use Closed Captioning

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Televisions in public areas in Watertown will be required to use closed captioning. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

Televisions in public areas in Watertown, including in restaurants and businesses, will have to turn on the closed captioning feature during regular hours.

The City Council unanimously approved the ordinance requiring closed captioning, also called subtitles, at its Jan. 9 meeting.

The ordinance was recommended to the Council by the Watertown Commission on Disability, City Council President Mark Sideris said. Assistant City Manager Steve Magoon added that it is modeled after an ordinance in the City of Boston.

“It requires an establishment that has a public facing television, that they turn on closed captioning for those that are hearing impaired to have the benefit of what’s being broadcast on that television set,” Magoon said. 

The ordinance states: “Any person owning or managing a public facility in the City of Watertown must activate closed captioning on closed captioned television receivers in use in any public area during regular hours.”

There is an exception for public entertainment venues, which includes cinemas, theaters, concert halls, sports centers, and festivals. Also, if the only television in a public area is not equipped to have closed captioning.

If an establishment does not turn on the closed captioning, the ordinance allows for an individual to file a complaint with the City’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator. The Commission on Disability would work with the ADA Coordinator to investigate complaints.

The ADA coordinator and the Commission on Disability could also conduct unscheduled inspections of public facilities, hold mediation sessions with those at public facilities and others, and provide guidance for how they can comply with the ordinance.

See the Close Captioning Ordinance by clicking here.

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