How ADA Requirements Help You Hear What You’re Missing
ADA regulations require “public accommodations” – including hotels, theaters, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, museums, libraries, private schools, and day care centers – to provide the hearing impaired with assistive listening solutions ranging from wireless FM receiver systems to interpreters.
Because of these regulations, everyone is guaranteed the right to understand meetings, movies, and other public events, regardless of their hearing abilities.
The hearing impaired, however, may not be aware of the options mandated by the ADA, particularly new ADA regulations that go into full effect in March, 2012.
Learn about 5 ways the ADA regulations enhance life for the hearing impaired.
1. Wireless FM assistive listening systems help you participate in meetings and lectures.
Because of poor acoustics, background noise, and lack of proper amplification, hearing a public lecture may be frustrating for hearing impaired individuals.
Venues such as theaters, lecture halls, libraries and other public assembly places must insure that everyone has a chance to hear by supplying “auxilary aids” to hearing impaired individuals.
One such “auxilary aid” – and perhaps the most common – is the wireless FM assistive listening system.
Wireless FM systems transmit audio from the speaker’s microphone (or the audio content of a film or multimedia presentation) into a personal receiver worn by the audience members.
The receiver, in turn, amplifies the sound into a headset so that the hearing impaired can hear at a personally comfortable volume level.
These systems can be used with or without hearing aids, either by removing the hearing aid and using the supplied headphones and headsets, wearing headsets over the hearing aid, or (with telecoil hearing aids) using a neckloop coil plugged into the receiver.
But FM wireless systems are not the only solution, particularly in scenarios requiring confidentiality.
2. Wireless IR assistive listening systems provide superior sound and confidentiality.
Like the wireless FM assistive listening system, wireless IR (infrared) systems transmit sound wirelessly to personal receivers.
Unlike FM wireless systems, audio signals are trapped by walls and won’t “bleed” into adjoining rooms. For this reason, IR systems are preferred for assistive listening in venues where confidentiality is key, like courtrooms or boardrooms.
IR systems are also popular for movie theaters, as they don’t require tuning, and work well in rooms with low light. IR systems also encounter less interference from competing wireless systems, which can be a problem in venues with multiple FM systems in use in various rooms.
That said, improved FM reception technology, audio fidelity, and a major cost advantage are inspiring many theaters to switch to FM systems over IR.
Keep in mind that no matter which system the theater provides, they must provide it free of charge. They may, however, legally charge a deposit.
Look for ADA compliance notices at the theater, indicating the theater provides an assistive IR or FM system.
You can ask for these systems at the box office or concession stand, or simply call ahead to insure that a system is available.
3. Handset amplifiers & hearing-aid-compatible phones help you hear telephone calls.
Most modern pay phones (when you can find them) are compliant with telecoil hearing aids, and are easily identifiable with a blue grommet attached to the handset.
In addition, amplified handsets are increasingly common, as are audio outlets that allow you to attach your assistive listening device (though it’s wise to travel with your own audio cord).
In most new buildings with banks of three or more interior pay phones, one phone per bank must feature a shelf for a portable TTY (text telephone).
Some public spaces – such as hospital emergency rooms – are also required to have at least one pay TTY phone available, no matter how many phones they have installed.
4. Many hotels must provide closed-captioning systems on the TV in your hotel room.
In addition to providing access to TDD telephones, hotels with more than 5 guest rooms must provide access to television service.
According to the ADA, “Places of lodging that provide televisions in five or more guest rooms and hospitals that provide television for patient use shall provide, upon request, a means for decoding captions for use by an individual with impaired hearing.”
Most modern televisions and media players offer closed caption decoding. To be on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to confirm with the hotel on check-in that closed captioning is available in your room.
5. Many service providers are required to offer interpreters or transcription services.
Doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and other public service providers must insure that critical information is accurately conveyed to the hearing impaired.
In many such one-on-one situations, a hearing assistance system is impractical, and the provider must provide “auxiliary services” as a substitute.
“Auxiliary services” can include qualified interpreters or written materials (whether pre-printed or supplied on the spot by a note-taker or transcriptionist).
Interpreters don’t accreditation to comply with ADA requirements, which means family members, friends, facility personnel as well as professional interpreters are sufficient.
However, the ADA does require that they be effective, accurate, impartial (especially in personal or confidential situations), and that the hearing impaired person accepts the choice of interpreter.
Learn More About the ADA
Do you represent a venue that’s required to provide hearing assistance by the ADA? Give our staff of technicians a call at 1-800-263-0112 or email us for information on the ADA or for help finding an ADA compliant receiver system that’s ideal for your venue!