Edmonds man helps push via state invoice requiring closed-captions in public areas

Dean Olson virtually testified at the Senate hearing for SB 5027 on Jan. 18.

Passing a Washington Senate bill isn’t easy, but that’s exactly what Edmonds’ Dean Olson did. Senate Bill 5027, which provides closed captioning on television in all public accommodation locations in Washington state, was unanimously approved and signed by Governor Jay Inslee on May 10 to help the hearing impaired.

At the age of 4, Olson began to experience mild hearing loss which eventually progressed until he became profoundly deaf as an adult and required bilateral cochlear implants.

He said he spent numerous hours making sure SB 5027 became law in Washington state.

“I knew we could do it,” said Olson, adding with a laugh that he is relieved that he no longer has to send emails to lawmakers asking them to pass the bill. “The last email I sent was a thank you to the sponsors for their hard work.” These included State Sens. Mike Padden (4th District), who sponsored the bill, and Jesse Salomon (32nd District), co-sponsor, along with Sam Hunt (22nd District), Derek Stanford (1st District) and Claire Wilson (30th district). .

Olson, who serves as president of the Washington State Communication Access Project (WASH-CAP), said the ramifications are profound: “When you walk into a place and the subtitles are on, you will tell people and they will tell others and word will soon get around that this place is inclusive. “

“It helps to show that as a community we welcome people with hearing impairments,” he added.

“I never thought I’d help write a Senate bill.” Said Olson. “We are working with Senator Solomon’s Washington State office and then helping direct support for SB 5027. This is quite a surprise.”

Most states have provided subtitles on a voluntary basis, but Washington is the first country in the nation to require it nationwide. The Federal Rehabilitation Act (Rehab), the Disability Awareness Act (IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensure that deaf or hard of hearing people have equal access and opportunity to attend events such as watching television in public Places to participate.

During a testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 18, Olson said that SB 5027 “ensures that no matter what part of Washington I am in, the TV subtitles are on.”

State Senator Mike Padden speaks on SB 5027 at the Senate hearing on Jan. 18.

Speaking at the Senate virtual hearing on Jan. 18, Senator Padden said, “The whole idea behind this bill is to help the hearing impaired, and we all have experiences with or with our families or know the hearing impaired Development that this should primarily be an educational work. “

The bill exempted airports, tribal areas and places of worship from the requirement, but Olson said those places should be included as well – something he would like to address later.

A 30-year advocate of disabled accommodation and diversity, Olson has secured subtitling through negotiations with the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Field and the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field, as well as advocating for subtitling to be implemented at Benaroya Hall in the White River Amphitheater , Mountlake Terrace Cinebarre Theater, ACT Theater, Woodland Public Zoo Tunes, Edmonds Theater, and Edmonds Center for the Performing Arts.

“Unlike most disabled accommodation, this is free accommodation.” Said Olson. “It makes it easier for everyone in public spaces to hear what is being said.”

Olson said he appreciated the bipartisan effort to pass SB 5027. Padden, the sponsor of the bill, is a Republican from Spokane, while Salomon, the co-sponsor, is a Shoreline Democrat.

“Sen. Jesse Salomon and his staff really supported the bipartisan approach. I was excited to be a part of it, ”said Olson, a voter in the 32nd borough of Salomon, which includes parts of Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.

The law will be passed on July 25, 2021, and Olson said the state human rights commission will produce a brochure for businesses that will explain SB 5027 in detail.

Further information can be found at https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5027&Initiative=false&Year=2021.

– From Mischa Carter

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