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Arizona first in U.S. to make legislative meetings accessible to people with hearing loss

For about 1.1 million Arizonans with some form of hearing loss, the state Legislature just became a more inclusive place.

When the Legislature convened last week, it rolled out a new live-captioning service for the state Senate and House of Representatives. The service is available, by request, for all committee and floor meetings in either chamber.

Advocates for people who are deaf or hard of hearing say Arizona's statehouse is the first in the country to offer such a service for all its meetings, making the lawmaking process more transparent and accessible.

"They can fully participate in the process if they want to know what’s going on," said Sherri Collins, director of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. “We are the state of the art on accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing."

The service, which must be requested via the Legislature's website at least 24 hours in advance, allows users to see a live text feed on their mobile device or computer.

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