New Mexico may require closed captioning on TVs in public spaces

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SANTA FE, N.M. – A new bill would require many businesses statewide to turn on closed captioning on their TVs.

House Bill 288 is very similar to a city ordinance Rep. Cynthia Borrego passed back when she was an Albuquerque city councilor. But she says the difference here is how many more people this bill will give equal access to.

HB 288 would require any place open to the public to turn on closed captioning for all their TVs, including restaurants, stadiums, stores, banks, gas stations, hospitals, and hotel lobbies. 

This bill aims to ensure that everyone in the state – no matter their hearing ability – can have access to any information displayed in public.

“I think what is important is that this provides equal access in all of our public spaces, and that is an important issue because often time people feel like they are disenfranchised, and we need to ensure they have equal access,” said Borrego.

The bill would also require the attorney general’s office to set up a “complaint process” for folks to report businesses or other entities that do not have closed captioning turned on. Then, the AG’s office would have to enforce the bill.

KOB 4 reached out to the Attorney General Raúl Torrez for comment, and a spokesperson said in a statement:

“The Attorney General’s office supports measures that would make New Mexico more inclusive and Attorney General Torrez is actively seeking civil rights authority and funding towards protecting the civil rights of New Mexicans, including our disabled community. We are actively evaluating how HB 288 would fit in that effort.”

This bill will be heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee later this session.

Track HB 288 during the legislative session.