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Montgomery Councilmember Craig Rice Honored for Work to Help Deaf and Hard of Hearing

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ANNAPOLIS, Md., March 1, 2011—Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice, who prior to his election in November served four years as a state delegate in the Maryland General Assembly, was recently honored by the State Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for his support and sponsorship of a state bill that requires operators of televisions in public areas to provide closed captioning, upon request.

Councilmember Rice was recognized by the Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at its Legislative Awareness Day ceremonies. As a delegate, he sponsored legislation that requires a place of public accommodation—on request—to keep closed captioning activated on a closed-captioning television receiver that is in use during regular hours in a public area. The legislation also included specified exceptions to the requirement.

“I feel that this legislation is a very significant step forward for the deaf and hard of hearing in that it provides some reasonable accommodations regarding televisions in public areas,” said Councilmember Rice. “The bill was a step to ensure that people in Maryland with a hearing loss have the same ability to follow programming in public areas as do others.”

The legislation provides that the first time a place of public accommodation does not, upon request, activate the captioning on a television, a complaint can be filed with the Maryland Commission on Human Relations. The business owner could receive a fine of up to $500. If the business continues to violate the law, it could receive fines up to $2,500.

Governor Martin O’Malley signed the bill, which went into effect on Oct. 1, 2010.

As a delegate, Councilmember Rice also co-sponsored legislation proposed by Delegate Kevin Kelly that would require movie theatres to provide access to closed-captioned technology for deaf and hard of hearing individuals and set the minimum number or showings for which closed-captioning technology is required at movie theaters.

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Release ID: 11-050
Media Contact: Neil Greenberger 240-777-7939, Delphine Harriston 240-777-7931