Reporter

What’s the problem?

Residents still can’t access or live stream St. Cloud City Council meetings online.

Background

In June, the cities of St. Cloud and Kissimmee stopped offering meetings online as the local government agencies worked to update closed captioning systems.

The technology overhaul came in response to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines, which require companies and government agencies to provide closed captioning on digital materials to make things more accessible.

The city of Kissimmee implemented a system quickly and got meetings online again a couple weeks. But meetings in St. Cloud remain unavailable six months later.

Why should I care?

It isn’t always possible for people to physically attend City Council meetings, which are held the second and fourth Thursday of each month.

Residents like Hughette Crumpler have voiced concerns about getting the meetings back online to increase government transparency.

“It’s unacceptable that it is taking so long,” Crumpler said at a council meeting two months ago. “These are public meetings that people have a right to have access to.”

So, what’s the hold up?

The city’s new closed captioning solution requires a physical interface to a Spectrum appliance that’s not available on the existing Spectrum unit within the city’s media control room, according to Howard DeYoung, director of information technology for the city of St. Cloud.

 Spectrum is aware of the problem, DeYoung said, but everything is on hold until the company can replace its old piece of hardware.

DeYoung said he didn’t know why Kissimmee was able to resolve their closed captioning issues so much more quickly, but noted that St. Cloud selected a different manufacturer product solution than Kissimmee.

How much does it cost?

Hardware, software, one year of maintenance and 24 hours of technical support cost $59,232, according to DeYoung.   

What’s next?

St. Cloud might be back in full video operation by the Jan.10 City Council meeting, according to Jay Bemiller with the Public Information Office.

It might even be sooner if the city can find a way to get captioned recorded meetings on the website before then, he said.

What should I do until then?

Residents can get files of local government meetings emailed to them directly by contacting Bemiller at jbemiller@stcloud.org.