Governing Board Rejects Livestreaming Meetings in 3-2 Vote

Updated: Jul 18, 2019

First entry in a series on livestreaming

At the May 28th 2019 governing board meeting, trustees Mark Evilsizer, John Halcon and Nancy Ann Hensch voted against livestreaming (and captioning) governing board meetings. Trustees Norma Miyamoto and Nina Deerfield voted in favor of livestreaming.

I am a hard-of-hearing faculty member (Biology department) who attends many of the governing board meetings. Due to my disability, much of the dialogue is incompre-hensible. Therefore, I am unable to follow many of the important conversations and reports that occur at the dais.

Currently, our governing board meetings are audiotaped by the Board’s secretary (which can be procured upon request). Unfortunately, an audio recording is useless to the hard-of-hearing without an accompanying transcript.

Beginning early 2019, I repeatedly called for the trustees to adopt livestreaming of the board meetings. Livestreaming the governing board meetings – which would be captioned in real time – would not only accommodate my disability, it would also make governing board meetings more accessible to Palomar employees, students and interested community members, particularly for those individuals who cannot attend (or for whom physical attendance would be a hardship).

Livestreaming would increase transparency significantly. Livestreaming is the norm for city council meetings and has already been adopted at many community college governing boards. Moreover, Palomar College has a renowned TV Center that could be utilized for such endeavors.

My push for livestreaming began in January of 2019, when I asked the Governing Board trustees to consider adding non-senators (such as myself) to an ad hoc joint committee (with the Faculty Senate) to address diversity in faculty hires. Here is an excerpt of the speech delivered to the trustees on January 22, 2019:

“...I am disabled, or “differently abled”. I was born moderately to severely hearing impaired. Hearing aids, historically, have been limited in their effectiveness. Therefore, I learned to get by with a combination of lip reading, sound, and filling in the gaps with context. But the lip reading is critical. I cannot maneuver without it. If I cannot read lips, dialogue – especially in large rooms such as this one – sounds like the adults from the Peanuts animations.

Because of my disability, I cannot watch cartoons, I cannot follow a movie in a movie theater, I cannot hear what is being said by all of these speakers who speak at the podium, because their backs are to me. I cannot hear in large, dark meetings, like plenary, because the low lighting or distance from the speaker occludes my ability to read lips. I cannot hear people who have strong accents, or keep their faces down, or have facial hair covering their upper lip, or don’t have facial hair but don’t move their upper lip much when forming words. I cannot hear you trustees when your microphone is too far away; I cannot hear you when your faces are cast down. I cannot follow audiobooks, or the audio recordings of any of the Governing Board meetings. My vocabulary is stunted because I cannot hear new words for what they are. My ability to learn a foreign language, like Spanish, which I would so love to be fluent in, is severely stunted. The reason that I have a bachelors in mathematics isn’t because I was a natural mathematician. It’s because math was the only subject matter where all necessary components of the lesson were written down on a chalk board or an overhead projector.... “

In response to this section of my speech, trustee Nancy Ann Hensch asked for a report on accessibility for the hearing impaired as shown in this excerpt is from the approved minutes.

Excerpt from January 22, 2019 approved governing board minutes

Encouraged by Nancy Ann Hensch’s comments, I sent a follow-up email to all trustees and President Blake where I explained that I can follow the San Marcos City Council meetings well and that the meetings are livestreamed. Trustee Miyamoto was the only person to respond to that e-mail. She thanked me for sharing this idea and stated that she hoped the Board would implement such improvements.

To be continued in the next blog post.........

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