Back online: Council votes to put videos on website, YouTube

Council videos taken down earlier this week were back online Friday afternoon.

In less than 72 hours since the videos were first removed, London City Council unanimously passed a motion to repost public domain videos of their meetings back on the city’s website and YouTube channel.

The videos were taken down earlier this week because council believed the videos of council sessions, committee meetings, and political debates were in violation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act because they were not closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

“With an abundance of caution, we chose to pull those videos down to show we were in compliance — but we learned that we didn’t have to,” Mayor Matt Brown said during a special meeting on Friday. “We learned that in fact we are in compliance, and we can get those videos back up as soon as possible.”

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Council voted unanimously in favour of putting the videos back online after City Manager Art Zuidema gave direction on behalf of city staff who had consulted with industry experts, legal aid, and the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario.

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“Our understanding is that that office is very much wanting to work on a co-operative basis, and doesn’t take a ‘got you’ kind of approach,” explained Zuidema.

“While there may be fines, the extent to which those fines are levied is in very very limited circumstances, when organizations are very un-cooperative. And the office does not see the City of London as having that approach.”

Zuidema said some of the videos will have closed captioning, while others will have the option for closed captioning upon request, with administration videos expected to appear back online by the end of the weekend, and videos of council meetings expected to take a few days longer.

Accessibility legislation has what Zuidema refers to as a “sunset clause”, which stipulates that all City of London public domain videos will be closed captioned by 2021.

Zuidema didn’t have a cost estimate for the project but said since closed captioning will be phased in, it’ll likely be less expensive than a ‘make work’ project.

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