State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) is working on legislation that would require certain medical facilities to have active closed captioning on televisions in waiting rooms and resident rooms.


IMPACT CIL in CommitteeThe measure, Senate Bill 309, is an initiative of IMPACT Center for Independent Living in Alton. The organization, which serves individuals with disabilities, noted that many of the patients it serves have reported inability to understand or hear televisions in medical facilities, and thereby have difficulty receiving important information.

Angela Botz, a proponent for deaf citizens and a representative of IMPACT CIL in Alton, noted in her testimony in the Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee that captioning features make a difference in the lives of the individuals with hearing loss, those with learning disabilities and the elderly.

“Captioning will benefit viewers for health comprehension and retention, accessibility, usage and preferences for access services,” Botz said. “Often times, individuals who request these services are ignored. Bottom line: The importance of captioning and full health access matters.”

Haine’s legislation, which is similar to a Minnesota law, requires closed captioning to be kept on at all times in certain medical facilities, including nursing homes.

“This measure is about ensuring people with hearing disabilities have access to vital information,” Haine said. “People need to be able to know what is going on in the world around them and the ability to have important medical information communicated to them.”

While there is currently some opposition to how hospitals would fund television upgrades to provide closed captioning on all devices, Haine noted that he is working closely with the Illinois Hospital Association and with nursing homes to come to a resolution that is economically feasible and fits the needs of those with hearing disabilities.

“I am grateful for the work and input from the Illinois Hospital Association,” Haine said. “I know together we can reach a resolution on a good piece of legislation that will help many people in our community.”

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