Filing an ADA Complaint Online

I was at a meeting recently where a frequent flyer mentioned that when he books his flights online, he’s able to make a note in the special services section that he has hearing loss.

It’s important to him because he has missed many flights as a result of not being able to fully understand the Public Address system in the airport. Apparently, every time he flies, he informs the airline that he has hearing loss and well over 90% of the time he has a wheelchair waiting for him when he lands. “Even though the wheelchair doesn’t help me hear better, I take it anyway; it can be a long walk to the baggage claim.”

Although, good-natured about it, this man has a pretty good point. Most people when they think of a disability or the ADA equate it with being in a wheelchair, even though far more people have hearing loss than any other disability.

Hearing loss is the number one disability in America. It is estimated that around 20% of Americans have some degree of hearing loss—to compare, those in wheelchairs are around 1.7%—yet, when the Americans with Disabilities Act is mentioned, most people associate it with those we see in a wheelchair because we can immediately understand and empathize with their struggle. When we meet people with hearing loss, however, we tend not to have the same amount of empathy, or we have none at all.

We are very quick to notice when a venue doesn’t proper wheelchair access, yet venues that are in violation of the ADA to offer assistive listening devices go unchecked on a regular and frequent basis. A man in need of an assistive listening device at the airport should be offered an assistive listening device, not a wheelchair. Can you imagine what would happen if the situation was reversed? What if a man in need of a wheelchair wasn’t accommodated with what he needed?

I’m delighted to see that the Department of Justice is making it easier to file complaints online for violations of the ADA.  Visit our ADA Info page for more information.

World Leaders in Hearing Loop

Hearing loops, also known as induction loops or t-loops, are assistive listening systems that provide access in facilities and venues for those who have a hearing impairment. The hearing loop takes a sound source and transfers it directly to a hearing aid equipped with a telecoil.

 

One of the most important considerations when it comes to installing hearing loops is meeting the IEC standard. Loop technology is often installed incorrectly, which results in unimpressive performance.

 

Listen Technologies and Ampetronic are the world leaders in hearing loop installation and training. Listen Technologies offers training courses that thoroughly walk through the installation steps and IEC standards. Our partners at Ampetronic have produced some fantastic videos offering installation tips for hearing loops. Watch them, here.

Trying Out Assistive Listening at Abravanel Hall

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend a symphony concert at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City. Since I work at Listen Technologies, I decided to seek out and use an assistive listening device to see what the process was like, as well as the listening experience. I found that they were available in one of the coat check locations on the main floor. There is a sign for assistive listening devices availability above the coat check window.

 

I checked out two units. One unit was for someone who has hearing loss to the point of not being able to hear conversations in a crowded, noisy environment. The other, I used to experience the product myself.

 

Check-out involved filling out a form in a 3-ring binder with my name, phone number, and the number of the unit, which was indicated by a number on a piece of tape on the device. Both were set to channel E, and one had the belt clip missing. One set of headphones had cloth covers over the earpiece foam, while the other headphone had just the foam covers.

 

Instructions were given by the issuer as to how to turn the unit on and off and how to adjust the volume control. They also reminded me to return the units after the concert.

 

During the concert the device worked well. I could clearly hear the performer separate from the symphony and could adjust the volume control to achieve a good balance for my listening tastes. In this environment, there was little to no background noise. The person with hearing loss said the device worked well and he enjoyed listening to the concert using it.

 

Whether you have hearing loss or not, I highly recommend checking out an assistive listening device next time you visit a public space like Abravanel Hall or something similar. It improved my experience, as well as the person with me.

Why Comply: Top Five Reasons to Comply with ADA for Assistive Listening

One

It’s the law! Providing assistive listening to people with hearing loss in public spaces and venues is mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

 

Two

It’s the right thing to do! Assistive listening systems help people with hearing loss feel more connected to their communities and live fuller, richer lives.

 

 

Three

It’s good for business! People with hearing loss make up a signification percentage of the worldwide population; according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 20% of American adults report some degree of hearing loss. Providing people with what they need creates the opportunity to reach a wider audience, thus increasing loyalty and business.

 

Four

There could be some $$$ in it for you! Some business may be able to receive a tax benefit for providing assistive listening to people with hearing loss. Check out tax form 8826 for more information.

 

Five

You won’t get penalized!  Did you know that are legal ramifications and penalties if you don’t comply with the assistive listening requirements outlined in the ADA. On March 28, 2014, the Department of Justice issued a Final Rule that adjusts civil penalties available under title III of the ADA ranging from $55,000 to $150,000.

New Legislation Requiring Audiologists to Provide T-coil Information

To put it simply, everyone has the right to hear what they love. I am obviously not the only one who feels this way. In an effort to spread more awareness about assistive listening, many groups are working to get bills passed in certain states that require audiologists to inform every patient about the availability of hearing aids with a t-coil switch and the benefit of t-coil.

 

How Hearing Aids Work with T-Coils

Hearing aids are fantastic in many ways and work well in quiet environments and conversations within close proximity. However, they fall short when the hearing aid user walks into a venue. Many of us have a difficult time understanding why. Shouldn’t hearing aids work well in all environments?

Hearing aids use their own microphone to pick up sounds, like a conversation. While this works well when the distance between the sound and the hearing aid user is in close proximity (3 – 6 feet), it does not work well in venues or public spaces, because the hearing aid user is typically away from the loud speaker and the venue or public space has background, ambient noise.

A t-coil or telecoil, is a tiny copper wire found inside most hearing aids that can be used with assistive listening technology to deliver the sound from the venue’s sound system, directly to a person’s hearing aid via the t-coil.  Seventy percent of hearing aids are equipped with t-coils and 100% of cochlear implants utilize t-coils. When the t-coil switch is on, the hearing aid user hears the desired sound directly in his or her ear without the unwanted background, ambient noise. The sound hearing aid users hear when their t-coil switches are in use is transmitted via induction loop—room hearing loop or personal neck loop with RF or IR technology.

 

Assistive Listening Technology and the Americans with Disabilities Act

While there was a requirement that venues and public spaces provide assistive listening systems when the original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, there was no requirement that venues or public spaces provide assistive listening systems that worked with people’s existing hearing aids, meaning hearing aids with t-coils. By now you can probably see why involving the audiologist community is necessary.

When the ADA went into full effect on March 15, 2012, there were revisions to the requirements that made it mandatory for venues and public spaces to provide assistive listening systems that accommodated and worked with people’s hearing aids. In other words, venues and public spaces are required to have a certain number of assistive listening devices that work with the t-coil in users’ hearing aids.

I highly recommend visiting our ADA page for more specific information on the ADA and assistive listening requirements. You can even download a white paper on the subject.

 

Current T-Coil Legislation

In order to spread more awareness about assistive listening and t-coils, hearing loss advocates are working to get bills passed in certain states, or have already gotten bills passed, that require audiologists to inform every patient about the availability of hearing aids with a t-coil switch. These states include: New York, Rhode Island, Arizona, Florida, and now pending in Utah.

Many dealers have told me that the assistive listening technology rarely gets used. This is because the people who this technology are simply not aware that it’s available.  By educating people, audiologists can help their patients better understand technologies, like assistive listening systems, neck loops, room hearing loops, and how they work with t-coils. This is an important step in bridging the gap between venues that offer assistive listening technology and those with hearing loss who assistive listening technologies are intended to help.

October is National Protect Your Hearing Month

Every day we have common experiences where noise levels are dangerous to our hearing, yet most of us aren’t thinking about how to protect our hearing or the hearing of our children. We are always reminding our kids to buckle their seat belts, but we seldom remind them to protect their hearing. As October is National Protect Your Hearing Month, I feel like it’s important to shed some light on this topic and to start learning about how to prevent hearing loss.

Many of us assume that noise-induced hearing loss is just something that happens to all of us. Others assume it only happens to older people. What if I told you that noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise in school-aged children? And would it surprise you if I told you that this type of hearing loss is 100-percent preventable?

According to the National Institute of Health, it’s not just the exposure to the occasionally loud siren blast or other extremely loud noise that can cause damage to our hearing, It’s the constant exposure to noises over 85 decibels, which isn’t very loud. A normal conversation measures about 60 decibels. Prolonged exposure to sound levels above 85 decibels can cause noise-induced hearing loss. And once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Most of our kids listen to their music with their earbuds in their ears at levels that are 85 decibels or higher. Take extra precautions. The concentrated sound from this type of equipment is more likely to damage your child’s hearing than just listening to music in a room because when listening to music in a room, much of the surroundings — like carpet, furniture, and walls — absorb the sound. With headphones or earbuds, the frequencies go directly into the ears.

Along with protecting our kids’ hearing, it’s important to think about your own. As adults, we’re exposed to noise, too. I now carry a couple of pairs of earplugs with me at all times. One pair I bought at a music store for under $20 and the other I had made with a kit that I ordered online; it’s custom-made for my ears. I went to an IMAX movie recently. At the start of the movie, the theater was way too noisy, so I pulled out some ear protection and wore them throughout the movie. I was able to hear just fine for the entire film.

These sorts of experiences are common, and yet most of us don’t even think about protecting our hearing or our kids’ hearing. I urge you to be more aware of the noise around you and your families. Tell your kids to turn down the volume in their headphones and earbuds and make sure you’re protecting your own hearing. We must be aware that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable.

Get Loopy at the Loop Utah Conference May 2 – 3

We love it when amazing people come to town, especially when those amazing people talk about something near and dear to our hearts. In honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month in May, Loop Utah and the local Utah Chapter of the HLAA have invited Dr. Juliette Sterkens as a special guest speaker.

Dr. Sterkens, a National Loop America advocate and an audiologist, will discuss the importance of the installation of hearing loops throughout the United States. She will also touch upon the subjects of advocacy and compliance for those with hearing loss.

Listen Technologies is very excited about this event as it supports Hearing Loop awareness, legislative compliance, and, in May each year, Better Speech and Hearing Month. Better Speech and Hearing Month is dedicated to raising more awareness about communication disorders. This year, the focus is on identifying the signs of communication disorders.

Get loopy with Loop Utah and support this event, which consists of two sessions. The first session on May 2 is for industry professionals, such as audiologists, architects, and facility managers, while the second session on May 3 is for the general public. If you’re interested in attending, please view the specific information below.

WHEN

May 2, 2014 (for audiologists, architects, and facility managers)

9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

May 3, 2014 (for the general public)

9:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

WHERE

Sanderson Community Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

5709 S. 1500 West

Taylorsville, Utah

All conference rooms are looped.

Putting Students’ Imaginations to Work with ListenPoint 2.0

Let’s face it. Other than parents, teachers have the greatest influence over children, so it is essential that students hear well in the classroom. That’s why we released ListenPoint 2.0, our latest Soundfield solution—we wanted to make learning limitless.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if Shakespeare had never learned to read? What if Einstein hadn’t had the opportunity to learn calculus? How different would our lives be if Steve Jobs couldn’t hear his kindergarten teacher? Without Jobs, we’d all still be using those crazy brick cell phones from the 1980’s! #lame #nomobileapps #howwouldiplaycandycrushsaga

Students learn best in environments where they can focus on what their teachers are saying. Unfortunately, several factors can get in the way. Some students have trouble focusing because they have hearing loss or are too far away from the teacher. Meanwhile, the classroom itself might have poor acoustics, or the teacher could have a strained voice from talking too loudly or too long.

In today’s classrooms, students have a lot of creative and innovative thinking to do. ListenPoint 2.0 helps them put their imaginations to work. It can also have a positive effect on their grades and test scores.* #bettergradesareawesome #A+ #listenpointisgenius

ListenPoint 2.0 delivers the following key benefits:

  • With mission critical deployments, it is the most advanced, flexible, scalable Soundfield system delivered by a trusted authority in the pro-AV market.
  • It incorporates AV technology and assistive listening systems to create enhanced and enriched learning environments for all students.
  • It is easy to install, operate, maintain, and adds more functionality over time.
  • It couples competitive pricing with advanced features.

We are truly excited to be part of a noble mission—educating students to become extraordinary people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The Marrs Report, 2006

California Building Code Requirements for Assistive Listening 2014

The State of California relies on the California Building Code (CBC) (Page 281 Section 11B-706) 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.

Assembly Areas

In Part One of the CBC, Assembly Areas are defined as, but not limited to, the following types of spaces:

  • Classrooms
  • Lecture Halls
  • Courtrooms
  • Public meeting rooms
  • Public hearing rooms
  • Legislative chambers
  • Motion picture houses
  • Auditoria
  • Theaters, playhouses, & dinner theaters
  • Concert halls
  • Centers for the performing arts
  • Amphitheaters
  • Arenas
  • Stadiums
  • Grandstands
  • 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/.

cbc-chart

Cory Schaeffer at CASI Part Three: Let’s Do the Right Thing

I am a firm believer that we all want to do the right thing. We all want to provide patrons and guests with Assistive Listening and become ADA compliant. What do we do next?

It is one thing to have an Assistive Listening System, but it is another thing to utilize it properly. I highly suggest that you start with signage to advertise that you have an Assistive Listening System. To ensure that you and your guests get the most out of your venue, here are more suggestions about how to make better use of your Assistive Listening System.

· Displaying proper signage is important. How will anyone know to ask for the equipment if it is hidden under some guest services desk somewhere in a box? Display them proudly: We Have Assistive Listening! All you have to do is ask! Depending on what sort of system you have (RF, IR, or Hearing Loop), you’ll need to display the correct sign. Here are some samples of the correct signage.

· Train your staff. Nothing is worse than bad customer service and this includes checking out an Assistive Listening System. Make sure all your staff members know what an Assistive Listening System is, what it is for, how it works, and why it is important. This way they can better serve those guests who need it. I give you the example of The Hale Center Theater in Utah. They are incredible when it comes to their Assistive Listening System that they even know to ask patrons on the phone if they would like to use the equipment when they are purchasing tickets. Amazing!

I would like to leave you with these important thoughts: providing an Assistive Listening System is an opportunity to inform people—it builds awareness, erases stigmas about hearing loss, and helps people. It is the right thing to do!

I would like to thank CASI for allowing me to visit them and share my passion on this topic. It was a wonderful experience and something I hope to be able to repeat for others in the future.

Listen Technologies
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