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Bloomington bars required to turn on closed captioning under new law

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (IUSTV News) – A recently passed Bloomington ordinance will soon require bars to turn on closed captions on all TV screens. It is the first of its kind in Indiana.

The Americans with Disabilities Act already mandates that public places turn on closed captioning upon request, but the ordinance will require it regardless of if someone asks.

The ordinance, sponsored by council member Stephen Volan, was passed by the council in Dec. 2023 and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2025. The city law extends to all public areas, including bars and restaurants, and requires the captions to be on during normal business hours.

Not all TV screens will have to have closed captions turned on if other screens are playing the same channel.

The Indiana Association of the Deaf (IAD) suggested the ordinance to the city council. Holly Elkins, with IAD, says the new law is simply about increasing inclusion for those with disabilities.

“Providing captioning or an ASL interpreter, you know for events, conventions, everyone can have accessibility and get the information the same way,” Elkins said.