Council committee endorses spending $22K/year to improve accessibility to meetings

By Dominic Abassi
April 11, 2019 - 3:25pm

The City's online video platform for meetings could soon include closed captioning.Screen shot/City of Nanaimo

NANAIMO — Council's finance committee is recommending the City spend more than $20,000 per year to include closed captioning on the broadcasts of meetings.

By a 5-1 vote on Wednesday, April 10, the finance and audit committee recommended Council direct staff to move ahead with adding closed captioning services to all meetings broadcast via the City's website.

A staff report said the additional service would be provided by the existing meeting management company at an annual cost of $22,400. One-time startup costs are expected to be $2,900.

The investment would make closed captioning an option to all online viewers of live or archived meetings held at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre and the Service and Resource Centre. It would not add the feature to previously recorded meetings.

City clerk Sheila Gurrie told the committee staff explored the option to increase accessibility after hearing feedback from members of the public and Council. She said only one other municipality which uses the same meeting management software as Nanaimo invests in the closed captioning option.

Coun. Jim Turley was the lone vote against the move, wondering how many people watch the meetings online. Staff didn't have the number available at Wednesday's meeting.

"It just seems to me if the number (of viewers) is very small it doesn't make any sense at this point in time to spend this kind of money," Turley said.

Staff said the investment would mean "a small increase" in property taxes for 2019.

The recommendation will come before Council for final approval at a future meeting. If approved, implementation would take only a week, the staff report said.


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