Special Needs Access
What is the Legislature's policy for assisting persons with special needs?
The Minnesota Legislature is committed to complying with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and supports the goal that individuals with disabilities shall not be excluded from participating in or be denied the benefits of any program, service, or activity offered by the Legislature. Effective communication is a necessary step in meeting that goal. Thus, the Legislature welcomes comments and suggestions from the public on services that will improve communication between the Legislature and individuals with special needs. Please direct comments to Legislative Coordinating Commission, Room 85 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155. See the Accessibility page for information on the legislature's website accessibility.
Does the Legislature provide access to public hearings?
Senate and House of Representatives hearing rooms, the Senate west gallery and the House of Representatives gallery are accessible to individuals using wheelchairs. Both the Capitol Building and the State Office Building have designated parking and entrance ramps to provide easy access to the buildings. If individuals require assistance, contact the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms at (651) 296-1119 for help in the Capitol Building or the House Sergeant-at-Arms at (651) 296-4860 for help in the State Office Building. A wheelchair accessible public access computer for using the Legislative Web site is available in the House Index Office, 211 State Capitol and in the Legislative Reference Library, 645 State Office Building.
Are there wheelchair services?
Both the Senate and House of Representatives have access to a wheelchair for use by people with disabilities within the Capitol or State Office Building. Advance notice is required to insure that the wheelchair is available when needed. Call the Capitol Information Desk at (651) 296-3962 for the Capitol Building or the House Sergeant-at-Arms at (651) 296-4860 for the State Office Building.
Is there a guide to the Capitol for visitors with disabilities?
The Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans has a site, Access at the Capitol, with information and a video series - Visiting the Minnesota State Capitol: A Guide to Accessibility Features for People with Disabilities (Accessible Video Series).
A Guide for Visitors with Disabilities: Minnesota State Capitol from the Minnesota Historical Society contains information such as entrances available for visitors with limited mobility and services available for visitors with hearing or visual impairment. For more information, call 651-296-2881; TTY 651-282-6073; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What television coverage is provided?
The Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate produce and distribute unedited television coverage of all House and Senate floor sessions, select committee hearings, press conferences, and other issue-oriented programming. Programming is broadcast to Minnesota residents weekdays during the legislative session from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., with extended evening and weekend coverage available for debates on high-profile issues. All programming broadcast is closed-captioned.
All House and Senate television programming is Web cast live over the Internet. The live Web cast service allows viewers to watch additional coverage not provided on the television channels or to watch extended evening coverage. In addition, all television programming is archived and made available on the House and Senate Web sites.
Are there specific services for people who are blind or visually impaired?
Signs. Raised numbers identify legislative offices and rooms in the State Office Building and Capitol. In addition, Braille signs have also been installed throughout the Capitol Building and the State Office Building to assist those who are visually impaired. The elevators in both buildings are also equipped with control signs in Braille.
Large print. Some of the printed material handed out in committees may be enlarged on the copying machines used by the Legislature. Contact personnel in the Legislative Coordinating Commission (651) 296-1121, Room 72 State State Office Building for assistance.
Readers. Readers of printed materials can be arranged upon request. Again, advance notice is necessary to insure timely assistance. Please call (651) 296-1121 for the Legislative Coordinating Commission for assistance.
Recorded Meetings. Every committee, commission meeting, and floor
session is recorded. Since 2004 the audio recordings are available
on the Minnesota Legislature's site. House recordings are found at
Audio and Video Archives; Senate recordings are found at Senate
Media Services-Senate Audio Service. For information on getting
copies of House audio recordings, contact House Public Information, (651)
296-2146; for copies of Senate audio recordings, contact Senate Supply,
(651) 296-5720. If an individual wishes to simply listen to the recording
of a committee meeting or floor session, the Legislative Reference
Library, (651) 296-8338, has listening facilities in Room 645 State Office
Documents in Adobe PDF format. Some documents provided by the Minnesota Legislative Information Service are in Adobe PDF format. Adobe provides accessibility tools for PDF documents and instructions on how to use the Adobe Reader "Read Out Loud Text-to-Speech Tool". To use this tool, PDF documents must be downloaded to your computer.
- Screen Readers: Blind and visually impaired people may want to take advantage of some of the available free screen readers such as WebAnywhere.
Are there services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing?
The Senate, the House of Representatives and the Legislative Coordinating Commission provide access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
A public access TTY pay telephone is located near the Capitol Information Desk on the first floor of the Capitol Building.
Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled may contact the Senate and House via their preferred Telecommunications Relay Service.
Minnesota Relay Service Minnesota Relay Service is a free service that uses a specially trained communications assistant (CA) to facilitate the telephone conversations between a person who has a hearing loss or speech disability and the person with which they wish to speak. All calls are completely confidential. To make a Minnesota Relay call dial 7-1-1.
Sign Language Interpreters In order to provide accessibility for meetings with legislators, legislative committee hearings, and House and Senate floor sessions, the Legislature contracts with Communication Services for the Deaf to provide legislative sign language interpreting services. Interpreting services are also available for hearings or meetings with legislators in greater Minnesota. To request legislative interpreting services, you may call (651) 224-6548; if you live in greater Minnesota, you can call 1-877-456-7589 (V/TTY). Please make your request at least 24 hours before the service is needed. You may also request legislative interpreting services from the committee administrator or committee legislative assistant that is planning the committee you want to attend.
You may also request legislative interpreting services by contacting the Legislative Coordinating Commission at (651) 296-9002, at (651) 296-1121, or at (651) 296-0099.
Closed Captioning Services For persons who need closed captioning services, you can contact the Legislative Coordinating Commission at (651) 296-9002, at (651) 296-1121 or at (651) 296-0099.
Sound Reinforcement Systems The Minnesota Senate has installed sound reinforcement systems for use in Capitol rooms 15, 107, 112, 123, 125, and the Senate chamber. Senate receivers may be signed out during normal business hours from the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, room G-1, Capitol Building. The systems, for the exclusive use of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, are available for the duration of a particular meeting or are to be returned immediately following the meeting. For meetings lasting beyond normal business hours, receivers are to be returned to the committee staff. Call the Sergeant-at-Arms at (651) 296-1119 for further information.
The Minnesota House has installed sound reinforcement systems in the ten hearing rooms in the State Office Building and in the House Chamber. House receivers may be signed out during normal business hours from the House Sergeant-at-Arms, room 190, State Office Building, and the Chief Clerk's Office, room 211, State Capitol. The systems, for the exclusive use of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, are available for the duration of a particular meeting and are to be returned immediately following the meeting. For meetings lasting beyond normal business hours, receivers are to be returned to the committee staff. Call the House Sergeant-at-Arms Office at (651) 296-4860.