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What do you know about assistive listening and hearing loss? Did you know that about 48 million people in the U.S. have some degree of hearing loss? Or that hearing loss is the third most common health problem in older Americans, with approximately 29 million people in the U.S. needing hearing aids?

So for those reasons and more, it’s critical that business owners, government officials, and others understand the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since 1990, the act has required accessibility accommodations for people with disabilities, including those with hearing loss.

Here’s what you need to know:

What’s an Assistive Listening System?

An assistive listening system isn’t a hearing aid. However, it’s not just an amplifier. It’s also not only for people who use hearing aids. An assistive listening system uses technology to deliver audio from the source to a provided assistive listening device, hearing aid or cochlear implant. It does amplify sound but also filters out ambient noise, so that anyone using the system can hear clearly.

Types of assistive listening systems include

  • Infrared, which uses infrared light to transmit sound
  • Radio Frequency, which delivers sound via radio frequency
  • Hearing loop, which uses an electromagnetic field to send audio. This system requires a flat copper tape loop or wire installed in the floor.

Who Must Comply?

Essentially, the ADA requires compliance in public facilities. These places include:

  • performing arts centers
  • courtrooms
  • movie theaters
  • auditoriums
  • classrooms
  • amphitheaters
  • stadiums
  • legislative chambers
  • convention centers.

These venues and facilities also must post signs advertising the assistive listening system.

Why Comply?

Millions of Americans experience hearing loss. So providing accommodations keeps these people—and their spending power—coming to your business or venue. Plus, the government offers tax benefits for compliance as well as penalties for violating the law.

Tax benefits: Small businesses may receive up to $5,000 in tax credits for an assistive listening system. Companies might also qualify for a tax deduction of up to $15,000. These tax benefits could cover most of the purchase of an assistive listening system, so the government makes compliance worth the cost.

Penalties: The ADA also makes non-compliance an expensive matter. A business that violates the law may be liable for a civil fine between $55,000 to $150,000.

What Do You Need?

The ADA doesn’t dictate what kind of assistive listening system a busAssistiev Listening: What You need to Knowiness or venue must provide. However, based on the capacity of the building or venue, it prescribes the number of receivers and hearing-aid compatible receivers. A hearing-aid compatible receiver works with t-coil hearing aids and cochlear implants. For example, in a venue with a seating capacity of 50 or less, it must provide two receivers plus one per 25 seats over 50 seats. It also must provide one hearing-aid compatible per four receivers. If you know you need to comply but don’t know what you need, we’d be happy to help. Go to our ADA calculator at https://www.listentech.com/support/ada-info/ada-tools-kits.

 

For nearly 30 years, the Americans With Disabilities Act has mandated necessary accessibility accommodations for people with all types of disabilities, including hearing loss. So it’s critical that business owners and government officials understand assistive listening systems, who must comply and why, and what equipment they must provide. If you’re interested in learning more about how Listen Technologies assists businesses in providing necessary accommodations, check out our website or call us at (800) 330-0891.

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