Seattle leaps forward with looped City Council

Three years’ worth of networking, planning, negotiating, and testing gave way to festive celebrating on September 3, 2015, when HLA-WA members and other testers nodded excitedly to give a thumbs-up to the loop at Seattle’s City Hall council chambers.

The city’s old FM system was not widely used or publicized, so the city set up a hearing access advisory committee, and later, the City Council allocated funds for a loop. Thanks to the persistence and patience of many both within and outside Seattle government, this loop dramatically improves the hearing accessibility of Seattle’s civic life.

The results: an Avidex-installed induction loop throughout the council chambers. Signage on the doors and accessibility information on posted on council agendas. An expanded accessibility presence on the city website, including a redesigned accessibility page with specifics for communication access accommodations, where they are located, whom to contact, and a request form. Direct links are included to the city’s ADA coordinator and the Title II grievance process.

We owe enormous gratitude to these incredible people who helped make this loop happen: Council-member Rasmussen, Monica Simmons, Seattle City Clerk; Debra Witmer and Laura Gramer, Seattle Commission for People with DisAbilities; Mary Anderson, Senior Services; Irene Stewart, NW Universal Design Council, Christine Seymour, CS-Deaf and Hard of Hearing Resource Specialists, HSDC, Michael Richardson, NW ADA , HLA-WA, especially access advisory members; Jerry Paulokinis, Maridee Garvey and Bill Collison.

With this step, the City of Seattle not only honors people with hearing loss but also lights a path for other venues and cities to follow to create an inclusive infrastructure. This landmark installation brings us closer to our dream: making Seattle the most-looped, most hearing accessible city in the country.

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