Closed captioning in areas of public accommodation

Closed captioning in areas of public accommodation https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Closed-Captions-scaled.jpg

By Oct. 23, 2021, all televisions capable of displaying closed captioning must display it 

In 2021, the Washington State Legislature approved SB 5027, which requires places of public accommodation to provide closed captioning on televisions in public areas.  

The law went into effect on July 25 and businesses had 90 days to comply—by Oct. 23, 2021. Places that might have televisions in public spaces include but are not limited to: 

  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Salons and barbershops
  • Hotel lobbies
  • Transportation centerssuch as train stationsand airports 
  • Visitor areas in hospitals, medical offices and media centers 
  • Waiting rooms in vehicle maintenance businesses

Exceptions: 

  • If there are multiple televisions, up to 50% of them do not have to display closed captioning, but those that don’t have it displayed must be clearly marked that they are on mute or have the sound turned off.
  • If the television is not able to display closed captioning, it is not required.
  • If another state or federal law exempts the business from closed captioning, that law supersedes this one.

Employee training: 

Employers are required to provide employees with training on closed captioning requirements. Employers may use this PDF guide and this PowerPoint presentation as training materials. 

Enforcement: 

The Washington State Human Rights Commission enforces this law. If the commission receives a complaint and finds the business to be out of compliance, the business will receive written notice of the violation. The commission will provide information on how to fix the violation. The business will have 30 days to fix the violation. If it does not, the commission can fine the business $75 for each violation. If there are subsequent violations, the fines will be $150. 

Read more about the new closed captioning law here. 

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