Because everyone deserves the same great experience
An Invisible Disability
Hearing loss is considered an invisible disability due to several factors. Some people simply don’t want to admit that they have hearing loss; others don’t know that there are many resources, including assistive technology available to help. Everyone knows someone with hearing loss and if we are lucky to live long enough, at some point we will all be touched by this disability.
It is important to be informed about the technologies and innovations to help those who have hearing loss so that they can continue to participate in and listen to the things they love.
Why Compliance Matters
Over 5% of the world’s population – or 430 million people – require rehabilitation to address their ‘disabling’ hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children). It is estimated that by 2050 over 700 million people – or one in every ten people – will have disabling hearing loss. (World Health Organization, April 2021).
Those with hearing loss are often an unknown and under-served group. Everyone knows someone with hearing loss, yet if you ask people what accommodations are made, they often have no idea that assistive listening accommodations are available.
One misunderstood aspect of hearing loss is that while hearing aids are great, they do not work in every situation. Hearing aids work great in a quiet environment, but in places with a lot of ambient noise, an assistive listening system is needed to block out unwanted sound and deliver sound directly to people’s ears. People with hearing loss need more signal than noise- it isn’t helpful if the sound is just louder.
Providing assistive listening systems is not only the law in many places, but it’s the right thing to do. Assistive listening helps people feel included, connected to their communities, and live fuller, richer lives.
More Reasons to Comply
- Nearly 20% of patrons have a need for assistive listening
- Patrons with access to assistive listening systems and devices have a much better experience
- It’s required by law in many countries
- A tax credit or deduction can help pay for auditory assistance products.
- Tax benefits – IRS Form 8826 http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8826.pdf
- In the US, there are penalties for not complying with assistive listening requirements. You could face legal ramifications and penalties. The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a Final Rule that outlines civil penalties ranging from $55,000 to $150,000.
Assistive Listening Signage
Assistive listening signage is a typical part of most legislative compliance. It also informs customers that a system is available to improve their experience. Businesses that display assistive listening signage must have a working system and meet all other legal requirements to comply with local accessibility and accommodation laws.
Learn more about assistive listening signage.
Assistive Listening Accessibility Calculator
The Assistive Listening Accessibility Calculator walks you through the requirements of being compliant based on your location and venue capacity.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits businesses and agencies from discriminating on the basis of disability. The ADA also establishes requirements designed to ensure that accommodations are provided for individuals with hearing impairments. These accommodations include assistive listening systems, which are required in new construction, renovations, or anywhere a professional AV system is being installed or upgraded. Private companies, commercial facilities, and state or local government buildings, providing goods or services to the public are all required to make such accommodations.
Complying with the ADA means having an assistive listening system in any assembly area where audio communications is integral to the use of the space. These areas can include classrooms, courtrooms, public meeting rooms, legislative chambers, performing art centers, arenas, convention centers, and many other public spaces. The law also requires signage to inform patrons that such a system is available.
How to Comply with the ADA
In section 219 of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design on Assistive Listening Systems, it states “In each assembly area where audible communication is integral to the use of the space, an assistive listening system shall be provided. Receivers complying with 706.2 shall be provided for assistive listening systems in each assembly area in accordance with Table 219.3. Twenty-five percent minimum of receivers provided, but no fewer than two, shall be hearing-aid compatible in accordance with 706.3.”
In the United States, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an assembly area is defined as a building or facility, or a portion thereof that is used for the purpose of entertainment, education, civic gatherings, or similar purposes. Specific assembly areas that require assistive listening systems include, but are not limited to: classrooms, public meeting rooms, legislative chambers, motion picture houses, auditoriums, theaters, playhouses, dinner theaters, concert halls, centers for the performing arts, amphitheaters, arenas, stadiums, grandstands, or convention centers.
Required Number of Receivers
This chart details the number of receivers or ALDs required based on seating capacity. If an area has a hearing loop, hearing aid compatible receivers are not required, however, they are required with other types of systems as outlined in the chart.
Contact Listen for a customized quote to accommodate your seating capacity at +1.801.233.8992 or 1.800.330.0891.
|Minimum Number of Required Receivers
|Minimum Number of Receivers to be hearing aid compatible**
|50 or less
|51 to 200
|2 plus 1 per 25 seats over 50 seats*
|1 per 4 receivers*
|201 to 500
|2 plus 1 per 25 seats over 50 seats*
|1 per 4 receivers*
|501 to 1000
|20 plus 1 per 33 seats over 500 seats*
|1 per 4 receivers*
|1001 to 2000
|35 plus 1 per 50 seats over 1000 seats*
|1 per 4 receivers*
|2001 and over
|55 plus 1 per 100 seats over 2000 seats*
|1 per 4 receivers*
*Or fraction thereof
**Using Listen LA-430 Integrated Neck Loop/Lanyard with LR-x200 iDSP Receivers
Hearing Aid Compatible Receivers
A receiver is hearing aid compatible when it works with a telecoil installed in a hearing aid or cochlear implant. Improvements in technology have increased options for hearing aid compatible receivers, including neck loop in lanyard technology, allowing the sound to be transmitted from the lanyard directly to the telecoil or cochlear implant.
An important part of compliance is signage identifying the availability of assistive listening devices. Venues are required to post signs with the international symbol of access to an assistive listening system. Click here for more information.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is the entity for enforcement of the ADA. If an individual goes to a venue, asks for an assistive listening system and one is not provided, that individual can file a complaint with the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice then may file a lawsuit. If at that point the owner of the venue is found to be non-compliant, civil penalties are often applied.
US Tax Credit
Businesses may receive a tax benefit for assistive listening systems. Small businesses may be eligible for up to a $5000 tax credit and any business may qualify for up to a $15,000 tax deduction. In certain instances, the tax savings may cover a significant portion of the purchase.
Additional Compliance Training
For additional training on ADA assistive listening compliance, you can visit our Training Page and watch the recorded webinar or register for a live webinar.
Complying with the European Accessibility Act
In March 2019 the European Parliament passed the European Accessibility Act – EAA. The act mandates accommodations for people with mobility, visual, and hearing impairment. The law focuses on common accessibility requirements for digital products and services (for example phones, websites, banking services, e-commerce).
The European Accessibility Act is a directive that aims to improve the functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services, that have been identified as being most important for persons with disabilities while being most likely to have diverging accessibility requirements across EU countries.
Businesses benefit from:
- Common rules on accessibility in the EU leading to costs reduction
- Easier cross-border trading
- More market opportunities for their accessible products and services
Persons with disabilities and elderly people benefit from:
- More accessible products and services in the market
- Accessible products and services at more competitive prices
- Fewer barriers when accessing transport, education and the open labour market
- More jobs available where accessibility expertise is needed
In Chapter I, Article 2, section 1(b), of the Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services, states that services providing access to audiovisual media services shall be subject to the law.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Adopted in 2006, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was ratified by 182 countries around the world.
The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. It takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.
The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorization of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It
clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and
identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced.
The purpose of the present Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.
Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. (From: https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/convention-on-the-rightsof-
Article 9 of the Convention – Accessibility states the following: “…To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.”
The convention invites the ratified parties to take appropriate measures:
a) To develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public;
b) To ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities;
c) To provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities;
d) To provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms;
e) To provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public;
f) To promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;
g) To promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet;
h) To promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
For more information about the ratified participants, visit the United Nations Treaty Collection.
Finding Locations and Venues
Discover the places that provide assistive listening systems in venues near you with the ALD Locator. Its purpose is to provide access to assistive listening-friendly facilities and businesses. You can also submit locations that provide assistive listening to be added to the locator.
Find the ALD locator at www.ALDlocator.com.
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Please note: You should always check your local compliance regulations in your country. Every country has its own regulations. Reach out to your local authorities to find more information on the topic.
This information is not meant to be a substitute for legal advice or legal opinions. You should always obtain legal advice that is specific to you and your situation. This information is general information only and is NOT a substitute for legal advice or legal opinions. Among other things, this information may not reflect current legal developments or other issues that may apply to your specific circumstances and situation.