New York City Economic Development Corporation: Testimony: Urging ECD Not To Provide The Requested Tax-Free Financing From The City Unless Yankee Stadium Expressly Agrees To Hearing Access; January

Hello, my name is Janice Schacter and I am the mother of a 14-year old daughter who is hard of hearing. In addition, I am the Chair of the Hearing Access Program, which is a consortium for the three leading organizations for hearing loss. Today, I am here in the role of a mom to discuss the needs of people with hearing loss at Yankee Stadium and the Mets Stadium as well.

I urge ECD not to provide the requested tax-free financing from The City unless Yankee Stadium expressly agrees to:

1- Offer induction loops at an appropriate number of concessions, ticket windows, all skyboxes and
2- The caption boards are visible from every seat.

Only those organizations that are accessible to people with disabilities should receive tax-free financing from The City. Every institution should be required to certify that they do not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, national origin, disability, age or sex.

The stadiums should ensure every part of the baseball experience is accessible for people with hearing loss. Every seat including the skyboxes should be able to hear the announcements. Fans with hearing loss should be able to have communication access at the ticket windows and the concessions. Communication and information should be available in both a visual and an auditory format to reach the full spectrum of people with hearing loss.

It is my understanding that the concessions and the skyboxes will not offer induction loops and therefore, will not be accessible to people who are hard of hearing. The number of induction loops available at ticket windows has not been provided despite my numerous requests. The loops at these locations could cost as little as $300 each.

The number and location of the caption boards have also not been confirmed. The access available to people with hearing loss at the stadiums should be transparent during the construction process.

Induction loops are a universally used technology that has been available for many years around the world. Induction loops can now be found in NYC’s taxis, buses, subway information booths, JFK airport, Temple Emanu-El and many of our museums including the New-York Historical Society, MOMA, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and Ellis Island.

Access in a noisy setting such as at a ball game is important. Induction loops allow my daughter and others with hearing loss to effectively communicate with vendors and hear the game while being in a skybox by switching their hearing aid to the “T” setting. The baseball fan whose hearing aid has a T-coil can hear the person selling the hot dog at the window or the game in the skybox directly in his or her ear. No longer does the fan have to worry that he or she will end up with a hot dog when they wanted a hamburger or not be able to follow a game while discussing business. A person with hearing loss should be able to enjoy every aspect of the game. A goal that everyone can agree is important.

We applaud the Yankee Stadium for approving some induction loops at the stadium but the teams cannot edit which parts of the baseball experience should be accessible. The recent DOJ Redskins decision made clear, sports fans with hearing loss should be able to enjoy every aspect of a game and The City should not provide attractive financing for any organization that does not support this goal.

Captioning benefits fans with a hearing loss whom have either not yet purchased hearing aids, have hearing aids without a T-coil or who cannot benefit from hearing aids because they are deaf. The scoreboards that contain captioning should be visible from every seat in the stadium. It benefits every fan that cannot hear over the stadium noise. Captioning is universal access.

If the goal of our teams is have first-rate stadiums then lets ensure people with hearing loss are not overlooked. Please include induction loops in the concessions and skyboxes and ensure every seat can see and read the captions on the scoreboards. Otherwise, Yankee Stadium should not continue to receive tax-free financing from The City.

Thank you for your time.

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