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Guidance on the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

219 and 706 Assistive Listening Systems

Signs. Section 216.10 of the 2010 Standards requires each covered assembly area to provide signs at each auditorium to inform patrons that assistive listening systems are available. However, an exception to this requirement permits assembly areas that have ticket offices or ticket windows to display the required signs at the ticket window.

A commenter recommended eliminating the exception at 216.10 because, for example, people who buy tickets through the mail, by subscription, or on-line may not need to stop at a ticket office or window upon arrival at the assembly area. The Department believes that an individual’s decision to purchase tickets before arriving at a performance does not limit the discretion of the assembly operator to use the ticket window to provide other services to its patrons. The Department retained the exception at 216.10 to permit the venue operator some flexibility in determining how to meet the needs of its patrons.

Audible Communication. The 1991 Standards, at section 4.1.3(19)(b), require assembly areas, where audible communication is integral to the use of the space, to provide an assistive listening system if they have an audio amplification system or an occupant load of 50 or more people and have fixed seating. The 2010 Standards at section 219 require assistive listening systems in spaces where communication is integral to the space and audio amplification is provided and in courtrooms.

The 1991 Standards require receivers to be provided for at least four percent (4%) of the total number of fixed seats. The 2010 Standards, at section 219.3, revise the percentage of receivers required according to a table that correlates the required number of receivers to the seating capacity of the facility. Small facilities will continue to provide receivers for four percent (4%) of the seats.

The required percentage declines as the size of the facility increases. The changes also require at least twenty-five percent (25%), but no fewer than two, of the receivers to be hearing-aid compatible. Assembly areas served by an induction loop assistive listening system will not have to provide hearing-aid compatible receivers.

Commenters were divided in their opinion of this change. The Department believes that the reduction in the required number of assistive listening systems for larger assembly areas will meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. The new requirement to provide hearing-aid compatible receivers should make assistive listening systems more usable for people who have been underserved until now.

Concerns were raised that the requirement to provide assistive listening systems may have an adverse impact on restaurants. This comment misunderstands the scope of coverage. The 2010 Standards define the term “assembly area” to include facilities used for entertainment, educational, or civic gatherings. A restaurant would fall within this category only if it is presenting programs to educate or entertain diners, and it provides an audio amplification system.

Same Management or Building. The 2010 Standards add a new exception that allows multiple assembly areas that are in the same building and under the same management, such as theaters in a multiplex cinema and lecture halls in a college building, to calculate the number of receivers required based on the total number of seats in all the assembly areas, instead of each assembly area separately, where the receivers are compatible with the assistive listening systems used in each of the assembly areas.

Mono Jacks, Sound Pressure, Etc. Section 4.33.7 of the 1991 Standards does not contain specific technical requirements for assistive listening systems. The 2010 Standards at section 706 require assistive listening systems to have standard mono jacks and will require hearing-aid compatible receivers to have neck loops to interface with telecoils in hearing aids. The 2010 Standards also specify sound pressure level, signal-to-noise ratio, and peak clipping level. Currently available assistive listening systems typically meet these technical requirements.


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