The hearing assistive technology industry has seen major advancements in recent years, both in the variety and quality of options. Entire venues are built with technology that improves the listening and communication experience for everyone, new hearing aids on the market can be charged by solar power or translate languages in real-time, and apps have the ability to transform your powerful smartphone into portable hearing assistive device. Read more
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
- movie theaters
- legislative chambers
- convention centers.
These venues and facilities also must post signs advertising the assistive listening system.
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.
Even though many countries have laws in place for mandatory assistive listening compliance, public awareness of these laws is inadequate. Many venues throughout the world still lack adequate systems to help the many people who have hearing loss. Here are some things you can do to build awareness and be an advocate.
1. Get Involved
There are many groups leading the charge to increase awareness, but they need your help. The Hearing Loss Association of America has a chapter in virtually every state and some states have several chapters. Find one in your area and get involved. They have incredible people and resources available to you. There are worldwide organizations, as well.
2. Speak Up
If you go to a venue where a public address (PA) system is being used, ask the facilities manager for an assistive listening device. If they don’t have one, make note of the facility’s address and fill out a complaint form. It’s only one page and only takes a minute. Here’s what can happen when people speak up.
3. Know Your Rights
Take some time to study your rights under the ADA. Knowledge is power, and being armed with information on your rights goes a long way, even if you only use it in casual conversation. It increases awareness; if people aren’t aware of a problem it can’t be fixed.
The biggest difference you can make is to speak up, don’t sit in silence, because you don’t have to. Be an advocate for yourself or for others who have hearing loss.
Instead of asking parishioners to turn off their cell phones during worship service, what if they could use them to hear your sermon clearly, no matter where they are in the building, or how well they hear? Venues everywhere are embracing the omnipresent smartphone as an assistive-listening solution and using the devices to get churchgoers more involved in the service.
But how does that work? It’s simple: Wi-Fi. Streaming audio over Wi-Fi isn’t a new technology. However, recent advances improved the technology and reduced latency, so there’s basically no audio delay. That’s made streaming audio over Wi-Fi to smartphones the perfect solution for assistive listening as well as live audio. Here’s why you need it and how it works:
Delivering sound over Wi-Fi to devices parishioners already carry is a simple way to re-engage churchgoers who’ve felt disconnected because they can’t hear or understand.
Maybe you’ve got parishioners who spend parts of the service in the cry room or lobby with their children. Or maybe members of your congregation have hearing loss—statistics show that’s likely as high as 20 percent of your congregants. Perhaps your worship service is a popular place, and audio for overflow seating is an issue. Or do you have parishioners who need translation, but have no way to broadcast it? That means you’ve got people who can’t engage and won’t feel connected to the service. You can help them feel that essential spiritual connection through the power of Wi-Fi with audio delivered straight to their smartphones.
Audio over Wi-Fi is not only easy for you to install and simple to use, but it’s also affordable. With a small investment—less than $800—churches can deliver clear audio to parishioners in the building with Audio Everywhere from Listen Technologies. All you need to do is connect your audio system—like a TV or microphone—to the local area network using a secure server. It may sound complicated, but it’s as easy as plug and play. Then parishioners connect to your Wi-Fi, download a free app to their smartphones, and start streaming audio. They can listen via their own headphones or earbuds. Or if they have Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, they can stream straight to their ears. And it’s scalable, so that you can accommodate small groups or thousands of users.
Churches can use this as an addition to existing assistive-listening solutions, like radio-frequency systems and hearing loops. Or it can be a standalone assistive-listening solution. Congregants use their own smartphones and headphones, so there’s no equipment for you to buy, store, or maintain.
An audio-over-Wi-Fi system is affordable and easy to install, but invaluable for your members who struggle to hear.
Spread the Word
Once you’ve installed Audio Everywhere, it’s essential to help your parishioners know about the system.
● Publicize: Use your regular news bulletins and website to promote your new listening solution. Also, post signs and posters about the system.
● Teach: Train your staff and volunteers how to use the system and troubleshoot. That way they’ll be ready to show parishioners what to do and answer questions.
● Celebrate: Share the success of Audio Everywhere with online reviews and word of mouth. Laud your increased engagement and attendance at church services.
Streaming audio over Wi-Fi to smartphones is an ideal solution for assistive listening. So, embrace the power of the smartphone and help your parishioners connect with their worship community with Audio Everywhere from Listen Technologies. Go to www.audioeverywhere.com/assistive-church/ to get started today!
Are you still using 20th Century tech for audio streaming? Are you worried that switching to a more technically advanced system—like Wi-Fi—will take more expertise than you have? Or that the learning curve for your guests or customers is too high?
Well, lucky for you, technology is on your side—switching your audio to a Wi-Fi streaming system can be as easy as plug-and-play. Globally, there are 1.9 billion smartphone users, why not provide audio for your guests on a device that they are already familiar with and comfortable using—a system so simple to use that everyone with a smartphone will figure it out in a matter of seconds. Audio Everywhere from Listen Technologies is the most advanced Wi-Fi streaming system on the market.
Easy to install
There aren’t many systems as easy to connect as Audio Everywhere. The system connects to your existing Wi-Fi network, uses existing audio channels from your music systems, set-top boxes or other audio sources. In addition, it uses negligible internet bandwidth and won’t interfere with the user’s internet access. Best of all, it’s scalable—you can use one or many audio sources and for hundreds of simultaneous users.
Installation takes very few steps:
- Power-up your server.
- Connect a CAT-5 cable to your wireless network.
- Connect the audio from your audio sources, like the output of a mixing console.
- You’re ready to stream!
Audio Everywhere from Listen Technologies is a breeze to set up but will make a huge difference in your customer experience.
Simple to use
Because 77 percent of adults in the U.S. own a smartphone, most of your customers can use Audio Everywhere without any problems. To get started streaming:
- Download the Audio Everywhere app from the App Store or Google Play.
- Connect to the venue’s wireless network.
- Open the app and start streaming audio!
Your customers or guests will appreciate being able to hear critical calls in games, your inspirational message, dialog on their favorite TV show, or breaking news. Plus, they can quickly switch between shows or audio sources. The Audio Everywhere app is easy to use and delivers reliable, crystal-clear audio.
If you’re not using wireless audio streaming, it’s time to embrace innovation. Switching from a wired system to a seamless, simple streaming solution is as easy as plug-and-play with Audio Everywhere from Listen Technologies. You’ll have it connected quickly, and your customers or guests can start streaming audio in a matter of seconds. Call us today at 1.800.330.0891 or click here to get Audio Everywhere!
Performing arts centers around the world—like the brand-new Hale Centre Theatre in Utah—turn to induction loop technology for assistive listening systems. But that’s probably not the right fit for a courtroom. And what works in a classroom might not work in a movie theater.
Technology for assistive listening isn’t one-type-fits-all. So, you need to consider all types of technology to find the right fit. There’s infrared, radio frequency, hearing loops, and Wi-Fi, along with their associated products. Here’s what you need to know about all of them:
In this type of system, infrared light waves—like the technology in many TV remotes—transmit sound to an IR receiver and headphones. The system floods a room with infrared light using IR radiators. Users don’t need hearing aids. They get sound via a receiver and headphones or earpiece. So, it’s an excellent solution for classrooms, courtrooms, and corporate boardrooms. And it’s ideal for anywhere a private audio signal is necessary. That’s because the signal can’t pass through walls or be received outside a specific area. This system is relatively low-cost and can deliver multiple audio sources. One of the drawbacks of IR, though, is that it is traditionally dependent on line of sight in order to receive the light signal.
Listen Technologies offers ListenIR, which delivers higher-quality audio, with twice the power and coverage of other receivers. Listen’s receivers are IR transparent, allowing them to receive light waves from all angles, greatly reducing signal drop out. The system, which can have six simultaneous channels, is streamlined for better management with simple and smarter maintenance solutions. The receivers are easier to store, wear, and use because they’re half the size and weight of other listening devices. Our innovative battery technology saves money as well as the hassle of battery management and disposal. Plus, the integrated neck loop/lanyard delivers better audio to users with cochlear implants and telecoil hearing aids. If you’re looking for a private, lower cost, easy-to-use assistive listening solution, check into the ListenIR system.
If you’ve listened to a radio or used a walkie-talkie, then you’re familiar with radio frequency. In an assistive listening system, sound is transmitted via radio frequency to a receiver and headphones. It also may deliver the sound directly to a receiver connected to a cochlear implant or telecoil hearing aid. Like the IR system, users don’t need hearing aids. This system can be used in small or large spaces, but it isn’t ideal in situations where privacy is necessary because the signal isn’t contained like an IR system. People often use this low-cost system in classrooms, public meeting spaces, churches, conference rooms, and nursing homes.
If you’re looking for a superior RF assistive listening product, Listen Technologies offers two options, with a maximum of 32 simultaneous channels. The 72 MHz system has a range of up to 1,000 feet, and is ideal for churches, performing arts centers, theaters, and more. We also have a 216 MHz system, with high-quality transmitters and receivers. The 216 MHz system is ideal for places where a larger RF signal is necessary, like at convention centers and stadiums. An RF system is perfect for everywhere from classrooms to concert halls. With an RF system from Listen Technologies, you’ll have a low-cost and high-quality assistive listening product.
Many users consider the hearing loop the best option for assistive listening systems. Using an electromagnetic field, it sends sound to people with telecoil technology in their hearing aid or cochlear implant. When a person with a T-coil hearing aid or cochlear implant walks into a venue with a hearing loop, they set their T switch to on and instantly have audio streaming directly to their ears. Optionally, a hearing loop can also send the signal to a receiver connected to headphones or an earpiece, so people without hearing aids can use them. The drawback of this system is that it requires installation, so they’re usually more costly than IR and RF systems. That’s because a hearing loop requires the venue operator to install wire or flat copper tape loop on the floor of the entire venue. Also, like an RF signal, this system is not secure.
Listen Technology’s ListenLOOP is the leader in hearing loop technology. We help people with hearing loss have a superior listening experience without distracting background noise that can lessen hearing clarity. One of our latest installations was at the Hale Centre Theatre in Utah.
“The hearing loop is giving so many of our patrons an experience they have never before had,” said Quinn Dietlein, Hale Centre Theatre’s development director and annual giving manager.
A hearing loop is the most convenient assistive listening system for users. It delivers high-quality audio, and even people without hearing aids can use it.
The latest in assistive listening technology is Wi-Fi. It’s precisely the same system as you use for your phone, laptop and tablets at home and just about everywhere else. A Wi-Fi system uses radio waves to send information across a network. With a Wi-Fi signal, any smartphone or tablet can turn into an assistive listening product.
Listen Technologies always is looking for the best and latest tech for assistive listening. Now with Audio Everywhere from Listen Technologies, end users get best-in-class assistive listening and best-in-class Wi-Fi audio streaming. Users just need to connect to the Wi-Fi network, download the free app for iOS or Android devices and select a channel. Then the system will connect directly to Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids through the Wi-Fi-enabled device. It’s great for everywhere from churches to bars, universities to corporate centers.
Seventy-seven percent of Americans own a smartphone, and about 50 percent own a tablet computer, so it makes sense to turn to Wi-Fi for the latest in assistive listening technology.
With several types of assistive listening technologies, there is a right fit for everyone, everywhere. So, when you’re deciding on a system, consider the venue and whether IR, RF, loop, or Wi-Fi is best for the situation.
So far 2017 has been a busy year for legislators and advocates who have diligently worked together to ensure equal access for the deaf and hard of hearing. For many, all that hard work culminated in March with the passing of legislation.
On March 17, 2017, Governor Herbert signed HB 60 into law. With this signing, the state of Utah has made history as the first state in the nation to replace the term “hearing impaired” with “deaf and hard of hearing” throughout all Utah code. This change shows that Utah acknowledges it’s DHoH community not as something in need of a fix, but rather a rich, diverse, and proud culture. This small change speaks volumes and is paving the way for many other states to follow suit. At last count, four more states have put forth bills to strike the term “hearing impaired” from their codes and laws as well. We may be a bit biased, but Listen Technologies has never been more proud to be headquartered in the great state of Utah!
In other good news, New York City has taken a giant leap towards accessibility and civic engagement with the passing of Intro-882-A. Sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Intro 882-A requires a hearing loop be installed in any city-funded building project with one or more public assembly areas. This legislation applies to all renovations or new construction with a cost of $950,000 or more. With projects under current capital planning, this will include close to 300 venues across New York City!
“With this bill, the City of New York will ensure that more and more spaces every year will be truly accessible to those hard of hearing. Hearing loop technology makes such a radical difference in the ability of so many to participate fully in public life, and I’m proud that as a City we have moved to make it not just a priority but a requirement in our public investments. I want to thank the advocates whose hard work made this possible, educating me and other policymakers on the importance of this issue and helping us reach a path toward getting this landmark legislation passed,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
Other aspects of this bill were thoughtfully included to encourage the use and success of the newly installed hearing loops. Directional signage will be required in all public areas with loop technology installed. Additionally, Intro 882-A requires that information, security, and reception areas in all newly looped venues be made accessible via micro-loops. By July 2018, the office of the New York City Mayor will be required to maintain an online list of city managed facilities with hearing loops, including those slated to receive them going forward.
New York City is the first major city in the United States to enact legislation of this kind. In doing so, they demonstrated that they value the input of their deaf and hard of hearing community members and are actively working toward inclusivity. Way to go New York City!
For the more than 360 million people worldwide who suffer moderate to profound hearing loss, venues must create a listening experience that is equal to that available to the general public. It’s not only the right way to accommodate hearing-impaired parishioners, patrons, and customers—it’s the law.
Today we’re seeing public demand for listening solutions that extend beyond the traditional assistive listening market. Wi-Fi-based personal listening solutions, while delivering excellent sound quality, are designed for the convenience of the venue—owners and managers no longer need to purchase and maintain devices. Instead, users download an iPhone or Android app to their smartphone and then select the audio channel that corresponds with the video they want to watch in a multi-display setting.
While these types of solutions can be used by the general public as well as the hearing impaired, it’s important to note that they were not designed to meet the ADA standards for assistive listening or comparable laws outside of the U.S., which require venues to provide an equivalent listening experience for the hearing impaired. While the audio latency associated with Wi-Fi technology is negligible, it cannot provide an equal experience for people with hearing loss. This limitation combined with the requirement to provide a specific number of assistive listening devices means that Wi-Fi is not an ideal solution for compliance. That said, there are applications where Wi-Fi-based solutions can complement an existing assistive listening system (ALS) that uses RF, IR, or induction loop technologies, giving all patrons or customers the best possible listening experience.
How does that work? Let’s take a quick look at the best applications for Wi-Fi-based solutions and then discuss when they make a great addition to your assistive listening solution.
Applications for Wi-Fi Based Solutions for Personal Listening
Wi-Fi for personal listening is an exciting, emerging area that has a growing list of applications and the potential for many more. We are seeing ListenWiFi being adopted in venues for:
- Higher education, particularly in student unions, where multiple televisions are available and the student wants to select the audio channel for listening.
- Corporate fitness centers or lobbies with video walls. Employees or visitors choose the audio channel for the video they want to watch.
- Museums with multiple video displays throughout the exhibit. Visitors can select the audio channel that corresponds with the video that piques their interest.
The Right Listening Options for Any Audience
When you need to provide both hearing and hearing impaired audiences with audio options, adding a Wi-Fi personal listening solution to a venue with an existing ALS can be a cost-effective approach.
For example, a theater may offer a movie in multiple languages. As a theater, the venue is required to provide an assistive listening device to any hearing-impaired person. The ALS device provides equal access to the movie audio, but what about translations for the general public? Purchasing transmitters and receivers for the full audience that doesn’t need a device for assistive listening is quite an investment. But adding a Wi-Fi-based solution gives the ability to access different audio channels to anyone with an iPhone or Android device. This cost-effective strategy allows the venue to remain fully compliant and provides options that create exceptional—and equal—experiences for all moviegoers.
To learn more about ALS and Wi-Fi solutions and to determine which is appropriate for your venue, please contact us at [email protected] or by phone at +1.801.233.8992 or 1.800.330.0891 (toll-free in USA & Canada).
Drumroll Please…. Listen Technologies!
We have had an exciting week at InfoComm 2016. Listen Technologies is proud to have received not one, but TWO awards at this year’s show.
The first comes from our valued partner in distributing, Herman Pro AV who honored us with their “Vendor of the Year” award. Looking forward to many more great things to come with Herman Pro AV!
Listen’s Maile Keone, Chief Revenue Officer and Peter Papageorge, Vice President of Sales and Marketing accept the “Vendor of the Year ” award from Herman Pro AV.
ListenTechnologies is also thrilled to be voted rAVe Publications Reader’s Choice for “Favorite Assistive Listening Product”. Nominated and voted upon by the AV community itself, the rAVe Reader’s Choice Awards are the voice of the people in the know-and they LOVE Listen Technologies!
Tracy Bathhurst, Listen’s Chief Technology Officer accepts the rAVe Reader’s Choice award for “Favorite Assistive Listening Device”.
InfoComm 2016 is almost upon us and we are EXCITED! Listen Technologies Booth #C10519 is brand new this year and it is shaping up to be awesome! It takes a village to put together a show like InfoComm and our Listen village has been rocking it this year.
Cory Paxman, Ryan Paxman, Ryne Carrillo, and Riley Hendrickson-Working hard to get us on our way.
From dreaming to planning, packing to set up……we are almost there and we CAN’T WAIT! See you soon!