The State of California relies on the California Building Code (CBC) to outline the compliance laws for facilities that serve people with hearing disabilities in California. The CBC is updated and published every three years. The most recent version of the CBC took effect on January 1, 2014.
While California has adopted the format of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the exact code was not adopted. For example, ADA sections 219 & 706 are listed in the California Building Code as 11B-219 and 11B-706.
There are two areas in which the CBC differs from the ADA: What they define as assembly areas and the number of assistive listening receivers they require in these assembly areas. Below, you will find more specific information on each of these topic.
In Part One of the CBC, Assembly Areas are defined as, but not limited to, the following types of spaces:
- Lecture Halls
- Public meeting rooms
- Public hearing rooms
- Legislative chambers
- Motion picture houses
- Theaters, playhouses, & dinner theaters
- Concert halls
- Centers for the performing arts
- Convention centers
- Conference and meeting rooms
This does not apply to systems used exclusively for paging, background music, or a combination of these two uses.
In section 11B-244.1, the CBC states: “Religious facilities shall be accessible in accordance with the provisions in the code. Where specific areas within religious facilities contain more than one use, each portion shall comply with the applicable requirements for that use.” In other words, California has deemed houses of worship to be classified as assembly areas; they are not exempt from the CBC requirements, nor are they exempt from the requirements of providing an assistive listening system.
Number of Receivers Required
The chart below highlights the CBC’s requirements for the number of assistive listening receivers required in an assembly area:
If a building contains more than one assembly area, which requires an Assistive Listening System, the total number of receivers can be calculated according to the total number of seats in the assembly areas, as long as the receivers are useable with all the systems.
If all the seats in an assembly area are served by a Hearing Loop System, the minimum number of receivers required to be hearing aid compatible will not be required to be provided.
As mentioned above, the CBC is reviewed and updated every three years. In California, if a facility is not compliant, the local building department is the enforcement agency per Health and Safety Code 19958. Additional information can be found at https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/bsc.ca.gov/.