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The original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 ensure that disabled individuals are given their rights to employment, transportation, public accommodations, public services, telecommunications, and other vital services. It was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush. Revisions were made to Title II and Title II in 2010, and they took effect on March 15, 2012, to match the 2003 International Building Code (IBC).

I have been in many situations where someone has told me that they do not understand why they have to be ADA compliant or that they are completely unaware that they should be compliant with the changes that were made to the ADA in 2010. It surprises me that people do not understand the opportunity they are missing. The ADA is not meant to limit anyone or anything; in fact, it is the opposite. It helps people and it helps businesses.

Let’s look at some facts:

· One in five American adults has some degree of hearing loss. If everyone with hearing loss lived in one country, it would be the size of the third largest country in the world. That is the size of the United States.
· Hearing loss is the third most common health condition for people over 65. With the Baby Boomer generation quickly reaching or approaching that age group, this demographic is increasing significantly.
· Hearing loss is on the rise among young people because of their lifestyle choices.
When you consider these facts, it seems more obvious than ever that increasing awareness of Assistive Listening and ADA Compliance is more necessary than ever. Not only do we have the opportunity to make people’s lives better by enriching them with sound and amazing experiences, but we also have the opportunity to do the right thing!
Doing the right thing is a huge business opportunity for many public spaces and venues. There are a lot of people who want to go out and enjoy activities. When you think about the number of people who have hearing loss, you also have to think about the number of their friends and family members who will also visit your venues. If you want people to continue to visit your place of business and give you patronage, it is important to provide them with what they need.

Provide people with easy, friendly, positive, and knowledgeable experiences—this is something we all have to do. It is an enormous opportunity for us all to build more awareness, erase stigmas about hearing loss, and make people’s lives better.

Did I mention there may also be the opportunity for some businesses to receive certain tax benefits by complying with the ADA? Visit www.irs.gov and see Form 8826 for more information.

If you are interested in learning more about Assistive Listening in your venue, I invite you to view this Assistive Listening Toolkit.

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