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Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining our Rep Firm Ellison Northwest for their inaugural AudioFest Northwest event. Dave and Anne Ellison coordinated nine of their manufacturing partners to spend a day focused on educating customers about their respective product solutions.
The other manufacturers that participated in AudioFest Northwest included:
Over the course of the day we welcomed over 100 participants from the AV industry. Area consultants BRC Acoustics, Greenbush and Michael R. Yantis Associates were in attendance as well as local contractors, integrators, dealers and end users from the house of worship market. Activities included hands on demonstrations, prize giveaways, and educational keynote presentations.
My role was to deliver one of the educational keynote presentations. Dave and Anne wanted to be sure that the presentations delivered valuable information to AudioFest participants. They asked that I consider delivering a presentation on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for assistive listening. Listen Technologies is certainly known for its assistive listening solutions but I felt like there was a real opportunity to get participants thinking about “accommodation” more broadly.
My goal for my presentation was to get participants thinking beyond the obvious “accommodation” of assistive listening when they are designing audio systems for public venues.  I feel that full accommodation can be achieved by the simple willingness to ask questions and/or provide education about elements that need to be considered beyond the obvious components of a sound system.  What’s really cool to me is that the same technology for assistive listening can also “accommodate” those who need audio description and language interpretation!! And, it’s easy to provide and it’s inexpensive to add into a system – making the venue more fully accommodating to those who need it.
I felt that in order to help the participants wrap their thinking around considering “accommodation” beyond assistive listening required that I review baseline information about assistive listening and ADA guidelines. The presentation also focused on audio description and language interpretation. Here is an overview of the presentation.
Assistive Listening
What is it?
Any method to get sound system or voice audio directly to the ear of an individual.
Who needs it?
Hearing impaired individuals.
Anyone who needs to improve their ability to hear the desired sound despite common problems like distance, background noise, or poor room acoustics.
Signed into law July 26, 1990.
No person shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation (Title III) – this includes the hard of hearing.
Who needs to be compliant under Title III?
Public Places
Commercial Facilities
Accessibility Requirements
New construction of public facilities must have 4% of seating or people capacity accessible to the hard of hearing.
Existing public facilities seating more than 50 people, 4% of the seats must be accessible.
Existing public facilities seating less than 50 people, 4% of seats but not less than two seats must be accessible to hard or hearing people.
Existing public facilities under renovation require full 4% accessibility if the cost of making it accessible does not exceed 20% of the renovation cost, otherwise, full accessibility is not required.
ADA Tax benefits
When used to accommodate ADA guidelines, and assistive listening system can be partially paid for with a tax credit.
Up to $5,000 for small businesses.
Any size business may qualify for a tax deduction up to $15,000.
Full details outlined in ADA Compliance Materials – Fact Sheet Series – Fact Sheet 4 – Tax Incentives for Improving Accessibility
Audio Description
What is audio description?
Narration which explains what’s happening visually in television, movies, DVDs or live performances. Delivered during gaps in the dialogue, this includes scenes, settings, costumes, body language and ‘sight gags’ – anything that is important to understanding. With AD you can share entertainment experiences with family and friends, without having to ask “What happened?”
Who does audio description help?
Anyone can use audio description (AD), and different people may find it useful in different situations. These people will particularly benefit:
People with vision impairments – enables them to understand subtle action they would otherwise miss.
People who are blind -conveys all visual elements of every scene.
People with print, learning or physical disabilities -enables people with print disabilities such as dyslexia, color blindness, and others with both learning difficulties and physical disabilities to interact with print and visual media.
Language Interpretation
What is language interpretation?
Procedure by which people that speak different languages can communicate with each other with only momentary time delay, using professional interpreters and specialized equipment
Interpretation vs. translation
Translation refers to the written word and is usually a literal translation (this word in this language means that word in that language). Language interpretation refers to the spoken word, and is easier described as “this is how we would communicate that message in our culture”, often using a completely different set of words.
How language interpretation works
Three separate ListenTALK receivers in a row with different group names on each display screen.
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