Requires public officers and public bodies to make reasonable efforts to provide qualified interpreters at no charge for the hearing impaired at public meetings and hearings upon written request to the public officer responsible for the siting of such hearing; also requires installation and use of assistive listening devices.
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A3385A
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public officers law, in relation
to the accessibility of public hearings and meetings
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
To provide interpreters and assisted listening devices for deaf and
hearing impaired individuals at public hearings and meetings.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Amends section 74-a of the Public Officers Law requiring the services of
interpreters for the deaf or hard of hearing be made available upon
request of a deaf or hard of hearing individual at public hearings, as
well as requiring certain hearing rooms to be equipped with assisted
listening devices. The bill also amends section 103 of the Public Offi-
cers Law to ensure the provision of interpreters at meetings conducted
by public bodies, as well as requiring certain hearing rooms to be
equipped with assisted listening devices.Provisions are included for the
public body to not have to provide the services of an interpreter or
assisted listening devices if such actions pose an undue hardship on the
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORIGINAL AND AMENDED VERSION (IF APPLICABLE):
The bill changes the term "hearing impaired" to "deaf of hard of hear-
The services of interpreters, and assisted listening devices, for indi-
viduals who are deaf or hearing impaired are essential if such persons
are to fully participate in public hearings and meetings conducted by
governmental bodies. Similar provisions exist for administrative rule
making proceedings. Individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired who
wish to attend such should be afforded every opportunity possible to
fully engage with public bodies by participating at public hearings.
Provisions are included in this bill allowing the public body to not
have to engage in the services of a qualified interpreter, or provide
assisted listening devices if doing so presents an undue hardship.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2018: A8158 - Passed Assembly
2017: A8158: referred to governmental operations
2015-2016: A.1669A - Passed Assembly
2013-2014: A.2826 - Passed Assembly
2011 - 2012: A.1932 - Passed Assembly
2009 - 2010: A.2102 - Passed Assembly
2009: A.637A - Passed Assembly
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
Minor costs associated with the hiring of interpreters on a meeting per
meeting basis, and with equipping hearing rooms with assisted listening
This act shall take effect January 1, 2022.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2019-2020 Regular Sessions
January 29, 2019
Introduced by M. of A. DICKENS -- read once and referred to the Commit-
tee on Governmental Operations -- committee discharged, bill amended,
ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee
AN ACT to amend the public officers law, in relation to the accessibil-
ity of public hearings and meetings
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Section 74-a of the public officers law, as added by chap-
2 ter 368 of the laws of 1977, is amended to read as follows:
3 § 74-a. Duty of public officers regarding [the physically handicapped]
4 accessibility. 1. It shall be the duty of each public officer responsi-
5 ble for the scheduling or siting of any public hearing to make reason-
6 able efforts to ensure (a) that such hearings are held in facilities
7 that permit barrier-free physical access to the physically handicapped,
8 as defined in subdivision five of section fifty of the public buildings
9 law; and (b) that services of a qualified interpreter, if available, are
10 provided at such public hearings at no charge to persons who are deaf or
11 hard of hearing upon written request to the public officer responsible
12 for the scheduling or siting of the public hearing within a reasonable
13 time prior to such hearing. If interpreter services are requested, the
14 public officer responsible for the scheduling or siting of the public
15 hearing shall engage the services of a qualified interpreter, if avail-
16 able, to interpret the proceeding to, and the testimony of such persons
17 who are deaf or hard of hearing; provided, however, that such action
18 does not impose an undue hardship on the public body holding such hear-
20 2. (a) On and after January first, two thousand twenty-two, such
21 public officers shall have the power and it shall be their individual
22 duty to equip any rooms used for public hearings which accommodate more
23 than one hundred persons with an assistive listening system for use by
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 3385--A 2
1 the deaf or hard of hearing; provided, however, that such action does
2 not impose an undue hardship on the public body equipping such rooms.
3 (b) For purposes of this subdivision, the term "assistive listening
4 system" shall mean situational-personal acoustic communication equipment
5 designed to improve the transmission and auditory reception of sound.
6 Such system shall include but not be limited to the use of standard
7 amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM), audio induction
8 loop, infrared light sound, or hard wire systems.
9 § 2. Subdivision (d) of section 103 of the public officers law, as
10 added by chapter 40 of the laws of 2010, is relettered subdivision (g)
11 and two new subdivisions (h) and (i) are added to read as follows:
12 (h) Public bodies shall make or cause to be made all reasonable
13 efforts to ensure that services of a qualified interpreter, if avail-
14 able, are provided at meetings at no charge to persons who are deaf or
15 hard of hearing upon written request to the public body within a reason-
16 able time prior to such meeting. If interpreter services are requested,
17 the public body shall engage the services of a qualified interpreter, if
18 available, to interpret the proceedings of the meeting; provided, howev-
19 er, that such action does not impose an undue hardship on the public
20 body holding such meeting.
21 (i) (1) On and after January first, two thousand twenty-two, public
22 bodies shall have the power and it shall be their collective duty to
23 equip meeting rooms which accommodate more than one hundred persons with
24 an assistive listening system for use by the deaf or hard of hearing;
25 provided, however, that such action does not impose an undue hardship on
26 the public body equipping such rooms.
27 (2) For purposes of this section, the term "assistive listening
28 system" shall mean situational-personal acoustic communication equipment
29 designed to improve the transmission and auditory reception of sound.
30 Such system shall include but not be limited to the use of standard
31 amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM), audio induction
32 loop, infrared light sound, or hard wire systems.
33 § 3. This act shall take effect January 1, 2022.