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ADA Compliance and Hearing Impairments: Everything Your Business Needs to Know

By | airports, Auction, Business, Casinos, Churches, Education, Government, Hearing Assistance, Hearing Loss, Stadiums, Theater, Tour Guides, Wireless Audio | No Comments

Every public business, organization, or venue should be thinking about how to improve accessibility at their establishment. Not only does it create a more welcoming environment for any and every-one that visits, but it can also be a legal requirement. 

Read on to learn more about how your business can (and must) improve accessibility through ADA compliance and other accessibility-friendly solutions.

What is ADA compliance?

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990. It prohibits discrimination and seeks to improve accessibility at public government entities and privately-owned “places of public accommodation,” and requires employers with 15+ employees to provide reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities.

What are ADA guidelines for hearing impairments?

The ADA requirements for hearing impairments vary by platform, business type, or entity. For example, all airlines within and into the United States must accommodate hearing loss, according to the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA), which is typically accomplished by adding captions to airport TVs
 
Other public venues must provide assistive listening devices (ALDs) in each assembly area where audible communication is integral to the use of the space. These venues include movie theaters, concert and lecture halls, schools, museums, hospitals, stadiums and arenas, courtrooms, conference rooms, convention centers, nursing homes, community centers, and the list goes on and on. 
 
If your venue provides fixed seating (e.g., theater or stadium) for 50 or more people, ADA compliant receivers must be available for a percentage of seating capacity. Originally it was 4% of capacity, but that figure was updated in 2010 to give larger venues a bit of a break with a scaled quantity. Additionally, at least 25% or a minimum of two receivers must be hearing-aid compatible.

What is an ADA-compliant device?

ADA compliant products for hard-of-hearing individuals include assistive listening systems (ALS) or assistive listening devices (ALDs). An assistive listening system is defined as an amplification system utilizing transmitters, receivers, and coupling devices to bypass the acoustical space between a sound source and a listener by means of induction loop, radio frequency, infrared, direct-wired equipment or wireless connection.

Who enforces ADA compliance?

Several agencies play a role in enforcing or investigating ADA compliance claims, including The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of Labor, and the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB).

What are the consequences of not following the ADA guidelines?

Failing to comply with ADA guidelines can result in both financial and reputation repercussions
 
On a purely financial basis, your business or organization can be fined by the federal government up to $75,000 for the first violation and $150,000 for additional ADA violations, and state or local governments may tack on additional fines. Additionally, you open yourself up to lawsuits, personal injury claims, and legal or civil penalties from disabled individuals with legitimate complaints or ambulance-chasing entities looking to make an easy buck. 
 
From a reputation perspective, your brand name can also be dragged through the mud for non-compliance, which can also severely affect your business financially in both the short and long term.

What businesses or organizations are exempt from ADA compliance?

The ADA does not apply to places of worship, religious organizations/schools, private clubs, or any other venue historically excluded from federal civil rights laws. However, many of these organizations decide to provide some type of assistive listening option to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all of their members and patrons. 
 
Learn more about our assistive listening solutions for churches and houses of worship.

Does AudioFetch work with ADA-compliant receivers?

Yes, AudioFetch is compatible with ADA-compliant receivers. AudioFetch can be used to broadcast the audio source live, and then businesses can use a regulation ADA-compliant device to receive that audio. 
 
AudioFetch also integrates seamlessly with hearing aids; listeners connect the hearing aid to their smartphone via Bluetooth and are able to listen in real-time.

AudioFetch works with businesses and organizations of all sizes to help you create a more accessible and welcoming environment for your guests, customers, and employees. If you’re ready to get started, contact us or schedule an appointment to learn more and request a free demo. 

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3 Steps to a Better Airport Experience

By | Waiting Rooms, airports | No Comments

Summertime air travel is expected to increase 3.4% over last year, and while the destination can be the reward, what about making the journey more enjoyable as well? Most of the stress of air travel is just a matter of surrendering your time to the process of getting there. For many, this begins by dealing with finding joy and gratitude in getting ready, getting to the airport, and getting on the plane.

The Night Before Your Flight

You’re all packed and have checked in online, now take some time to plan your travel outfit the night before you leave.  No matter how long your flight, you want to be comfortable, so choose your softest, most breathable clothes.  Keep in mind the difference between casual Friday and looking like you spent the last three weeks painting your house – you never know who you might run into at the airport. Being comfortable and looking put together also makes you “look the part” of someone who enjoys travel, which can add a bit more fun to your journey and might even get you some travel perks. If you’re on an international flight, consider packing a change of shirt, underwear and some deodorant wipes, so you can feel a bit more refreshed when you deplane.

Commuting To the Airport

Many of us have had the experience of rushing to the airport, hoping we don’t miss the flight and make the trip even more stressful and expensive. So, one of the best things you can do is allow yourself ample time to travel to the airport. Think of ways you can save yourself time like showering the night before, packing everything you’ll need in your carryon, from a snack to your passport, and if you’re a morning snoozer, try setting your alarm 20 minutes earlier.  If you live in a big city, you need to plan ahead for traffic and unexpected delays like an accident or a freeway closure – even if you are taking a cab or rideshare. If you are driving yourself, don’t forget to plan time for finding a parking spot and grabbing a shuttle to the terminal. The worst thing that could happen if you plan ahead, is that you’ll arrive at the airport so early you’ll actually have time to meander through security and maybe check a few emails before boarding even begins. 

Before You Board

Even inside the airport there is still traffic – the foot kind.  Whether you’re checking bags or headed straight to security, be sure your boarding pass and i.d. are handy. If you planned your travel outfit the night before, hopefully you’re wearing slip on shoes, minimal jewelry and pants that don’t need a belt. These simple steps can really help you breeze through security

If you’ve given yourself ample time to arrive at the airport, and have made it through security, you have the option of exploring some of the airport’s comfort options, like restaurants, lounges, televised news & sports, and (if you’re lucky) massage stations.  O’Hare in Chicago has a light show along the moving sidewalk.  Austin’s airport will give you a flavor of the city.  JFK in Queens has a view of the Manhattan skyline.  You can ask if the airport has an observation deck or if you’re on a stopover from an international flight, if the airport has showers. Be sure to pack your headphones and ask if there’s an airport audio streaming system for the televisions around the terminal. A wireless streaming solution that transmits television audio to your smartphone can ensure you hear every word of what’s on screen to help you pass the time while waiting for your flight. 

Finally, be sure to pack some breath mints or pick some up at one of the shops in the terminal. Once you’re finally on the plane, you can offer one to your seatmate as an ice breaker.

Bon voyage.