The Sun Chronicle: Our View: Public meetings must be made hybrid

The Sun Chronicle's editorial team supports EMC's calls for hybrid public meeting access.

This article originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on March 19, 2024 and was written by the editorial board. 

Several open meeting advocates, including the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, the Disability Law Center, the ACLU of Massachusetts, Common Cause Massachusetts and the New England First Amendment Coalition, are urging Healey to change her mind and support the effort to require hybrid meetings.

The groups argue that remote meetings preserved public bodies’ ability to operate during the pandemic, but also “opened the door to civic engagement for members of the public and many people who had previously been shut out,” including seniors with mobility issues, people with disabilities, parents with young children, people with elder care and adult care responsibilities, people who can’t drive or afford taxis or rideshares, people with chronic medical conditions, and people who just want to know more about their government.

“Remote access is the latest instance of universal design — alongside curb cuts, elevators, closed captioning, audiobooks, and other features — that began as accommodations and expanded to universal popularity,” the group wrote. “Like these innovations and others (that emerged) during the pandemic, remote access to public meetings should become a permanent feature.”

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