The 2010 Standards for Accessible Design expanded the definition of a disability to include the words speech, vision, and hearing requiring both physical access and effective communication.
Section 219 - Assistive Listening Systems, in summary states: "in places of public assembly where audible communication is used to provide direction or critical information an assistive listening system is required to be provided for people with hearing loss and in conformance with Appendix L performance requirements".
Hearing loop systems (also called induction loop systems) are by design compatible with all hearing aids and cochlear implants equipped with a T-coil. No additional special receiving device is needed. The full text of the 2010 changes can be read at this document on the ADA website.
Many architects, engineers, and maintenance managers have embraced the ADA 2010 Accessible Design because it increases accessibility for all visitors to benefit the bottom line, rather than as a penalty for incurring extra costs. In particular with hearing loops, which has a minimal installation cost and has no negative effect on customers who are not disabled, the increased engagement from the hearing-impaired population has quickly shown its benefit in tangible results. Dan Goldstein, Manager of Cloverwood Senior Living stated, “Once we installed a hearing loop, our program attendance increased 3 fold”.
Any newly constructed or renovated place of public assembly that utilizes amplified sound is required to meet ADA 2010. That's the bottom line. Exempt spaces such as houses of worship or private clubs also benefit from having a hearing loop system because of the immediate benefit they provide. ADA 2010 is enforced by the Department of Justice and or State Attorney General’s Office while some states have adopted ADA 2010 as part of the Building Code. Building owners are required to make good-faith effort to install assistive-listening system, whether new or existing construction.
Hearing Loops Unlimited specialists provide audit and assessment action plan consulting services. Planning and implementing assistive-listening systems to achieve compliance is our specialty at Hearing Loops Unlimited, and there is additional information available at Access-Board.gov and ADA.gov.
Yes, but they're not nearly as good as hearing loops. Other systems require the use of headphones, which do not satisfy the requirement to "work with hearing aids", and FM or IR neck loops require additional hardware for each user to wear as well as continual maintenance. They require distribution and collection procedures, which often result in "Don't steal our equipment" messages insulting to the very people they are intended to help. Such systems are regularly found to be unsanitary as proper cleaning often neglected. Lastly many people with hearing loss find equipment that makes them stand out de-humanizing, so they avoid using such systems even when they are available. All this can be overcome with the elegant hearing loop technology, which is:
This graphic of three assistive listening system shows the benefit to choosing a hearing loop over any other system: