Senate Is Providing Captions for Fetterman

Advocates praise action on assistive technology
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2023 2:10 PM CST
Senate Is Providing Captions for Fetterman
John Fetterman waves to supporters after addressing an election night party in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Democratic Sen. John Fetterman will take part in his first committee hearings today—and his workspaces will be the first to have the newest assistive technology to help with auditory processing issues. Time reports that Fetterman, who had a stroke last May, will have a live caption display monitor at his desk so he can read what people say in real time. The Sergeant at Arms has also made sure there is a monitor with the same technology that can be placed on the dais when it's Fetterman's turn to preside over the Senate. In committees and elsewhere in the Capitol, the 53-year-old will be able to read a live transcript on his tablet.

The Sergeant at Arms' office contacted Fetterman soon after he defeated Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in the November election to see what kind of adjustments he would need. Senate colleagues say he has been coping extremely well with the challenge and appears to be less reliant on the technology as time goes by. No rules changes were needed for the technology to be introduced. Time notes that senators with disabilities have had accommodations made for them in the past—and since many members are in their 70s and 80s, other senators have had "subtle accommodations" made.

In reporting that Fetterman would be using a closed captioning device during a debate, CBS News in October noted that "doctors say ... having difficulty processing spoken words ... is a common symptom following a stroke ... but it doesn't mean there's a problem understanding what's being said." (Advocates for disabled people say the Senate is setting a good example; read their take at Time.)

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