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Providing Closed Captioning on Council Meetings too Costly, Suggests Town Staff

Author of the article: Kathleen Smith
Publishing date: Mar 25, 2021

If an Ontario-based organization uses online video, it must be made accessible. For a video to be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities, it must have closed captioning for deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers and video description for blind or low-vision users.

“For that video, for us to post it now, it’s required to have all this for people with disabilities,” said Coun. Trevor Bazinet during the March 22 virtual council meeting.

“I think it’s a fabulous thing to add for people, but we aren’t willing to do this because of the cost?”

Due to the cost involved, municipal staff recommended that meetings continue to be live streamed but not posted on the website as it has been done for the past year.

Goderich council meetings have been live streamed, recorded and put on the town’s website for residents to view since the pandemic’s start.

“Currently we live stream and then the video gets posted on the website. Anyone can go on our website and watch any video,” said Bazinet.

“This report is saying we will no longer do this. My concern with this is people are going to think that we aren’t being open and transparent, even though they can contact the clerk department and have it emailed to them.”

Live streaming of meetings does not require to be closed captioned as per the AODA requirements, however, any videos posted on the website must be fully accessible.

A recommendation was made to council at the March 22 meeting that videos be archived onto the Town of Goderich’s server rather than be posted to the Town’s website. The meeting video link would be available to anyone wishing to obtain a copy via email from the clerk’s department.

Town staff looked for council’s concurrence with the report, yet it was pointed out that there was no cost comparison within the report. There were no figures indicating what the Town of Goderich would be saving by not paying for this service.

Clerk Andrea Fisher didn’t have the numbers in front of her at the time and it was decided that council would be provided the numbers of what the cost is for hosting services to meet requirements by AODA.

The decision on whether the videos of council meetings would remain on the website meeting requirements by AODA, or whether they would be archived and available only upon request was tabled by council until a further report on the cost comparison is discussed.

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