The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990. It prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life and mandates certain accommodations in facilities that are open to the public.
Section 219 of the law discusses signage that must be posted alerting patrons to the availability of hearing assistance devices (see “signage” section below).
Section 706 lays out technical requirements for the systems that must be supplied. In particular:
- It requires all systems to have standard mono headphone jacks
- Hearing-aid compatible receivers must have neck loops to interface with telecoils (T-coils) that are present in most modern hearing aids
The ADA also contains specific requirements for assistive listening receivers in facilities. This applies to assembly areas “where audible communication is integral to the use of the space.” These 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 centers.”
|Seating Capacity||Minimum Number of Receivers Required||Minimum Number of Receivers Required to be Hearing-aid Compatible|
|50 and under||2||2|
|51-200||2, plus 1 per 25 seats over 50||2|
|201-500||2, plus 1 per 25 seats over 50||1 per 4 receivers|
|501-1000||20, plus 1 per 33 seats over 500||1 per 4 receivers|
|1001-2000||25, plus 1 per 50 seats over 1000||1 per 4 receivers|
|2001 and over||55, plus 1 per 100 seats over 2000||1 per 4 receivers|
- Exception 1: Assistive listening systems are NOT required in settings where audio amplification is not required (Other than in courtrooms)
- Exception 2: “Religious entities” are exempt from the ADA. However, both Texas and California have state building codes that override this, requiring religious facilities to be ADA compliant. Other states may be following their lead soon.
- Exception 3: In buildings (under unified management) with multiple assembly areas that are required to provide assistive listening support, the total number of required receivers may be permitted according to the total number of seats in the assembly areas as long as all receivers are usable with all systems.
- Exception 4: Where all seats in an assembly area are served by an induction loop system, the minimum number of receivers required to be hearing-aid compatible (per the table above) are not required.