International Assistive Listening Regulations

European Accessibility Act (European Union)

In March, 2019 the European Parliament passed the European Accessibility Act. This law mandates accommodations for people with mobility, visual, and hearing impairment. An estimated 51 million EU citizens have some degree of hearing loss. The law focuses on digital products and services (for example phones, websites, kiosks, ATM machines).

While the Act does not mandate assistive listening support in facilities to the same degree as the Americans with Disabilities act, it does support provide funding for public procurement of accessible products, services and facilities. It also provides a framework for additional technical standards to be developed in the coming years.

Advocacy groups are already pushing for more stringent accessibility requirements at public facilities in the near future.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations)

Adopted in 2006, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been ratified by 180 countries around the world.

Article 9 of the Convention deals with accessibility and calls on member states to:

“…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.”

While this act does not go as far as the ADA in requiring specific accommodations, the hearing assistance provided in debate sessions for the Convention itself provide a guide as to appropriate hearing-assist measures for public meetings:

“…The WiFi allowed persons in the room to electronically access and read the documents being discussed using assistive devices as necessary. All Ad Hoc Committee meetings were held in a wheel-chair accessible conference room, and neck loops were provided upon request for persons with hearing impairments.”

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