Americans with Diabilities Act (ADA) Standards and Other Regulations

Celebrate. Learn. ADA34 Americans with Disabilities Act

Hearing Well is a Civil Right

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), a room with a public address system (PA system), is required to have an “Assistive Listening System.” These systems give clarity to people with hearing loss.

Who does this apply to? Title II entities (State and local governments) and Title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public).

ADA Standards for Accessible Design

Where will you find assistive listening systems? 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:

  • 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 

Assembly Areas could include, although they are not specifically listed in the ADA Standards:

  • airport gate waiting areas
  • comedy clubs
  • cruise ships
  • fire and police station community rooms
  • funeral homes
  • gymnasiums
  • hotel meeting rooms
  • places of worship (commonly exempted under the ADA, but depends on activities and state regulations)
  • senior centers
  • senior communities
  • transit

Malfunctioning Equipment

Usually working locally is quicker for resolving problems. Below are some options for consideration. Determine what might be best for your situation.

  • If your telecoil in your hearing aid or cochlear implant is not working, it is likely you will get it resolved with your audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. However, if you cannot, your State can help with consumer protection issues. Audiologists and hearing instrument specialists are licensed by the state.
  • If the Assistive Listening System or device is not fully working, some options:
    • Troubleshoot. Educate and work with the venue/organization/institution. Try to use written communication, either as initial inquiries or as follow-up. Sometimes you may need to contact someone in a supervisory position. Contact us if you need assistance for FM, infrared (IR), or hearing loops. See hearing loop troubleshooting and FM/IR troubleshooting.
    • Write a Google review.
    • File a complaint with the ADA coordinator at the business, venue, or institution. Contact information for ADA coordinators can be found on their website.
    • File a discrimination complaint with your state’s Civil Rights Division. Contact information for each state (webpage)
    • File a discrimination complaint with the Department of Justice.

ADA Standards-Resources

ADA Great Lakes Center

Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)

ADA Standards: Education, Interpretation, and Support

  • 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)
  • Receiver calculator Northwest ADA Center (website)

ADA Standards: Resources

Chart of receivers, based on ADA standards

ADA Standards: Receivers for FM and infrared systems. Graphic courtesy of Assist2Hear

International Standards

Multiple Countries

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


Minnesota Statutes 16C.054.
No commissioner or agency head may approve a contract or grant state funds for a capital improvement project to construct or renovate a public gathering space in a building unless:
(1) the project includes equipping the public gathering space, if the public gathering space has or will have a permanent audio-amplification system, with audio-induction loops to provide an electromagnetic signal for hearing aids and cochlear implants; and
(2) the project includes meeting the American National Standards Institute Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements and Guidelines for Schools on maximum background noise level and reverberation times in the public gathering space.”

“The New York City Council passed Local Law 51 of 2017 requiring the installation of an induction loop assistive listening system or successor technology in at least one of any planned assembly areas for new construction or rehabilitation projects with City financing and an estimated construction cost of $950,000 or above.”

Legislation Resources

State Legislation

  • Legislation summary. States that mandate counseling hearing patients about telecoils in hearing instruments, assistive listening systems or building standards
  • Zotero online library of articles and legislation