Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 18, 2019 2:36 p.m.
With little discussion, the Fernandina Beach City Commissioners (FBCC) voted unanimously at their April 16, 2019 Regular Meeting to approve Resolution 2019-63, which accepted a proposal from Swagit Productions, LLC in the amount of $83,120 for closed captioning (CC) services for the remainder of the current fiscal year. The annual cost for this service is estimated at $120,000.
City Clerk Caroline Best expects the service to begin within 60 days.
Swagit Productions, LLC is the City’s video streaming and broadcast solutions provider. This Resolution approves the purchase of equipment, products and services necessary to meet ADA requirements for live streamed closed captioned and post production closed captioned meetings. The cost for the service is being absorbed by the city’s General Fund Contingency Account.
During an FBCC Workshop session on March 20, 2019, City Attorney Tammi Bach explained the City has been served a lawsuit from Juan Carlos Gil claiming documents on the City’s website are not ADA compliant. Ms. Bach provided a presentation regarding the America’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and explained that the City’s website, live streamed City Commission meetings, live streamed Advisory Board meetings, and Laserfiche document center do not all currently meet ADA requirements.
As a result of the lawsuit, the city has eliminated public online search access to city archives. However, the public may still request documents from the Clerk’s Office. City Clerk Caroline Best has also provided a computer workstation in her office where the public may conduct research. To request a document or ask questions about this change in policy, you may contact the City Clerk’s Office.
The consensus of the City Commission during the Workshop was to close caption live streamed City Commission meetings, the approximate cost of which is $3.00 per minute. But due to cost considerations, the FBCC opted to provide closed captioning for Advisory Board meetings post production (not live). That cost is $0.75 per minute.
The only alternative to providing closed captioning was to cease video recording and live streaming, meaning that anyone interested in watching a meeting would need to attend that meeting in person. All the Commissioners, who have been striving for more transparency, rejected that option.
Individuals will be able to request closed captioning of meetings recorded prior to the passage of this resolution. Such a service will be provided within a reasonable time at no cost to the requestor.
During the Workshop City Attorney Bach explained that she would write disclaimer language to be placed on the City’s website which explains how citizens with disabilities may request a previously recorded City Commission meeting or Advisory Board meetings with closed captioning.