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County asked to make meetings accessible to all people

Lycoming County commissioners were asked Thursday to provide services to help people with disabilities better take part in government.

Jody Baney, director of programs and services, Center for Independent Living, advised commissioners that it’s been 30 years since the American Disabilities Act was passed, prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life.

It not only is a law, she said, but it’s only right that it be followed.

Commissioner Rick Mirabito said everyone should have the ability to adequately watch and listen to meetings.

Last week, commissioners took no action on a request to approve funding for a service that includes captions of their livestreamed meetings to accommodate people with disabilities including deaf persons.

The cost to the county would be between $10,000 and $24,000.

Other possibilities discussed Thursday were the use of a sign language interpreter.

“I think the problem is we have to commit to spending money,” Mirabito said.

Commissioner Scott Metzger said he has been working to accommodate the specific county population in need of such services.

“It’s been 30 years since the ADA law,” said Karen Koch, who has been affiliated with the center. “How long does it take?”

The YouTube livestream for commissioners’ meetings simply is not adequate, she added.

Marie Prince, a deaf resident of Cogan House Township, said she and others like herself should have the opportunity to participate in government.

“We have the right to have these accommodations at these meetings,” she said.

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