New Closed-Caption Requirements for Businesses Beginning August 7

downtown Salem Court Street

​Beginning August 7,everyone who owns or manages a place where people gather (like restaurants, offices and stores) must turn on closed captioning for at least 50% of the televisions or streaming media devices in each public area during regular business hours.

​Beginning August 7, 2019 everyone who owns or manages a place where people gather (like restaurants, offices and stores) must turn on closed captioning for at least 50% of the televisions or streaming media devices in each public area during regular business hours. This new rule applies to most televisions (those with closed captioning available) and also requires closed-captioning be made available on any display or monitor upon request.

On July 8, 2019 the Salem City Council approved changes to Salem Revised Code Chapter 97 governing the display of captions of television and video display monitors in public spaces. Below are answers to frequently asked questions about the new rules. 

What kind of businesses does this affect?

  • All businesses and places where the public gathers such as restaurants, bars, stores, offices, transportation, lodging and other places of public accommodation that makes television or video content available to their customers as a service are required to comply.

Where must closed-captioning be made available?

  • In areas where the public gathers and televisions or streaming devices are visible and made available for the public or customers to watch. This includes bars, lobbies, waiting areas, and health clubs.

What if there is only one close-captioned or streaming media device in a public use area? Are businesses required to turn on close-captioning for that display?

  • Yes.

What about internet video streams displayed in areas of public accommodation?

  • Devices or televisions that display video streamed from the internet as a service to customers or the public are included.

Why was this change made?

  • Nearly 1-in-4 Americans will experience hearing loss during their lifetime. Many businesses and places where the public gathers provide television and streamed video to their customers. This allows all their customers to keep up on the latest news, watch local sports, or pass time waiting for an appointment or service.

    This change was adopted by the Salem City Council on July 8, 2019. The changes to Salem Revised Code Chapter 97 governing the display of captions on television monitors in public spaces are effective August 7, 2019. 

Does this apply to everyone?  Are there exceptions?

  • Yes, there are exceptions.  Retail stores are not required to have closed captioning.
  • Businesses are not required to turn on closed-captioning if:
    • The only television or streaming media device in a public area is not capable of closed-captioning.
    • The television or streaming media device is not meant to be a service to customers or the public.

How will the closed captioning requirement be enforced?

  • The City will investigate complaints and seek corrective action from violators. Cases of knowing and willful violation of the discrimination protections in SRC Chapter 97 may be subject to a penalty of up to $250.

Who do I contact at the City of Salem if I have questions?

  • Contact Gretchen Bennett, Human Rights and Relations/Federal Compliance Coordinator, at [email protected] or call 503-540-2371. 

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