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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 19, 2022 11:55 AM
From: Representative Angel Cruz
To: All House members
Subject: Improving the Accessibility of Legislative Proceedings
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that State and local governments communicate effectively with Deaf and hard of hearing people. Though Pennsylvania law calls for sign language interpreters to be made available upon request for administrative and court proceedings, this provision is not extended to interpreters for legislative proceedings. Closed captioning (CC) is an option but is not available on most platforms that live stream House and Senate proceedings, and often does not accurately reflect what is being said. These gaps in accessibility deny individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing the same opportunity to meaningfully observe and participate in Pennsylvania’s legislative discussions. 

To address this inequity, I will be introducing legislation requiring the Pennsylvania General Assembly to ensure certified sign language interpreters are available during any televised legislative proceeding, including floor debate and each committee meeting and hearing of the House and Senate. My bill will also align the definitions for “deaf” and “hard of hearing” with those established by the National Association of the Deaf in model law.

At least 14 other state legislatures provide sign language interpreting services. Please join me in supporting this bill to ensure Pennsylvania’s Deaf and hard of hearing communities have clear and unambiguous access to our legislative process.

Introduced as HB2612