Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards

Below the graphic "Communication Access helps people with hearing loss the same way ramps help people with mobility issues." Graphic with two international ADA symbols with equal symbol between them. 1) International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss and 2) International Symbol of Access (ISA), also known as the (International) Wheelchair Symbol.

Four Assistive Listening Systems, as recognized by the ADA

  1. Hearing loop
  2. FM System (also RF System)
  3. Infrared System
  4. Direct-wired equipment
Celebrate. Learn. ADA34 Americans with Disabilities Act

2024 ADA National Webinars

Assistive Listening Systems: Where We Are Today and What’s On The Horizon 

When an elevator is installed, no one asks why the elevator is needed or how to use it. In comparison, when an assistive listening system (ALS) is installed, almost everyone will say “Huh?”

In this session, you’ll learn that even when people wear hearing aids, they still need assistive listening systems to hear clearly in public and private entities. The session will cover which systems fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the ADA standards, the practicality of the different ALS, and best practices for managers so that users have a positive experience, whether they wear hearing devices or not. Also, the session will cover how Auracast may be used as an assistive listening system with International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards to be released in 2027. For years to come, all assistive listening systems will coexist for users to access clear speech anywhere they go.

  • Part 1: Foundation. Thursday, May 16, 2024. (90 minutes, recorded webinar, webpage)
    • 1:53 Start
    • 5:10 About hearing loss
    • 15:54 Assistive listening systems overview
    • 28:07 ADA Standards and Requirements – Effective Communication and Assistive Listening Systems
    • 46:56 Telecoils
    • 57:20 ADA Standards – table for receivers, public notice, transition plans
    • 1:11 Q&A
  • Part 2: Real World. Thursday, July 18, 2024. (registration webpage)

Great Lakes ADA Center – Accessible Technology Webinar Series​

Where Will You Find Assistive Listening Systems?

  1. In indoor or outdoor areas or rooms, with a public address system. These are called “Assembly Areas.
  2. In all Courtrooms
  3. Where Effective Communication is needed, such as service counters, rooms without public address systems, etc.

Assistive Listening systemsapply to Title II entities (State and local governments) and Title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public).

What is an “Assembly Area” where ALS are Required?

A building or facility, or portion thereof, used for the purpose of entertainment, educational or civic gatherings, or similar purposes. For the purposes of these requirements, assembly areas include, but are not limited to (source: ADA Standards for Accessible Design):

  • amphitheaters 
  • arenas 
  • auditoria 
  • classrooms 
  • concert halls
  • convention centers
  • courtrooms 
  • dinner theaters 
  • grandstands 
  • lecture halls
  • legislative chambers 
  • motion picture houses 
  • performing arts centers 
  • playhouses 
  • public hearing rooms
  • public meeting rooms 
  • stadiums 
  • theaters 

While not specifically named in the ADA, these facilities/sites may have assembly areas or may be an area for Effective Communication:

  • airport gate waiting areas
  • comedy clubs
  • community rooms, e.g., fire and police station
  • cruises
  • funeral homes
  • gymnasiums
  • hotel conference rooms
  • information, registration desks
  • lifelong learning classrooms
  • pharmacy counters
  • places of worship*
  • senior centers
  • senior communities
  • transient venues
  • transit
  • yoga studios

* commonly exempted under the ADA but depends on activities, funding sources, and state or local building codes or regulations. See Religious Entities Under the ADA

Signage

All assistive listening systems need a sign with the International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss.

Graphics are available (webpage, this website)

International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss. A white ear with a slash through it. Blue background.

Resources

#1 If the assembly area has a public address system or is a courtroom: ADA Standards for Accessible Design (at www.ada.gov website) requires an assistive listening system.

#2 If hearing assistance is needed for the situation, Title II and Title III entities still need to provide auxiliary aids and services so you can equally participate.

ADA Title II

Law Enforcement

  • ADA Regional Centers (website). The National Network of ADA Centers provides information, resources, and trainings for consumers, organizations, and businesses, but do not have enforcement responsibilities.
  • U.S. Access Board, Technical Assistance (website with contact info)

map of the US showing the 10 ADA centers

Map of 10 Regional ADA Centers

For hearing loops. Since the telecoil in hearing aids is the receiver, no “hearing aid compatible receivers” are needed (3rd column).

Three ways to calculate:

  1. Use the table in the ADA Standards
  2. Online Receiver Calculator Receiver calculator Northwest ADA Center (website)
  3. Use the graphic. Click on graphic for a better image. Graphic courtesy of Listen Technologies

Graphical chart of the ADA requirements for the number of receivers. Please see the ADA for text version

 

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is committed to implementing the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA). To do so, the agency constructs new facilities that are accessible to persons with disabilities and incorporates the most current accessible-design requirements into its alterations of existing buildings. It also leases accessible facilities. GSA takes pride in accommodating all Americans.

National Accessibility Program

Please let us know other state resources

Multiple Countries

ISCVE (United Kingdom) Institute of Sound, Communications and Visual Engineers Ltd