Accessibility and the Americans with Disability Act...The ADA
Items which pertain to the Americans with Disability Act are defined and standardized by the Department of Justice. http://www.justice.gov
Individual states often codify these standards however, federal regulations must be followed regardless.
The Disability Rights section of the Department has a lot of helpful information. Click on the seal on the right.
For purposes of the ADA "Disability" is defined as: .." a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment,or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment." The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.
For those of us with Hearing Loss those aspects of the ADA which pertain to us are especially important. This section of our Website is devoted to places of general assembly and the ADA under article section 219.2. It is the section of the regulations that pertain to Assitive Listening Systems.
There are some locations and situations where an Assisitive Listening System (ALS) is mandated. Note the ADA refers to an Area of Assembly which they define 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 include, but are not limited to: 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, or convention center.
Generally an ALS is required "In each assembly area where audible communication is integral to the use of the space" EXCEPTION: Other than in courtrooms, assistive listening systems shall not be required where audio amplification is not provided." It's important to know there are more exceptions with which we need to become familiar before discussing the law with facilities.
People with hearing loss frequently use Assistive Listening Devices and Assitive Listening Systems to help us navigate in the hearing world. ALD’s are Assitive Listening Devices that help individuals with hearing loss to hear. Although hearing aids and cochlear implants fullfill this definition they are considered medical devices and aren’t generally included when using the term, “assistive device”. Assitive Listening Devices (ALD’s) are personally owned and not installed in large venues or designed for many people to use at the same time.
An ALS, refers to an Assitive Listening System which is installed and used in large venues or places of public accommodation and may be used by many or one listener. Assitive Listening Systems are to be used whenever a microphone or speakers are used.