In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, programs and services provided by state and local government, goods and services provided by private companies, and in commercial facilities.
This Act includes provisions to accommodate hard of hearing people, including incorporating Assistive Listening Systems in new building construction, in alterations or renovations to buildings and facilities of private companies providing goods or services to the public. It also requires that State and local governments provide access for the hard of hearing in programs offered to the public.
Under the ADA an assembly area is defined as a building or facility, or a portion thereof that is used for the purpose of entertainment, education, civic gatherings, or similar purposes. Specific assembly areas 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.
YOUR LEGAL OBLIGATION
Providing access to the deaf and hard of hearing is mandated by The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signed into law in 1991 and revised in 2010. This law addresses when assembly areas are required to have assistive listening devices (ALDs).
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is the oversight entity for enforcement of the ADA. The key thing to remember here is that if someone goes to a specific public venue where there is a sound system, and if that individual asks if they have an assistive listening system and they respond, “no.” This individual can go to the Department of Justice and file a complaint.
Then the Department of Justice can file a lawsuit, this would then go to Court and if the owner of the venue is found “non-compliant” the court can apply “Civil Penalties” in the amount of the $55,000 for the first violation, and $110,000 for any subsequent violation.
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Additional Resource: Guide to Assistive Listening Compliance