Theaters, Courts, and Auditoriums

The Americans for Disabilities Act General Guidelines (2010) require that “an assistive listening system shall be provided’ in assembly areas that have audio amplification. One in four assistive listening receivers must be “hearing-aid compatible”—but this requirement is waived for facilities “served by an induction loop.”

Lecture hall and seminar room, Royal Society of Edinburgh

In many settings, hearing aids are insufficient, because turning up their volume magnifies extraneous noise and reverberation as well as the desired “signal.” Assistive listening systems clarify sound by eliminating the negative effects of distance, noise, and reverberation.

Ideally, people with hearing loss would receive this broadcast sound directly through their own inconspicuous and personalized hearing aids. If public venues would install loop systems, more and more people in the USA, as in Europe, would become equipped to use the system. In the interim, loop systems can serve those not equipped with hearing aids just as do infrared and FM assistive listening systems—with portable receivers and headsets. (Rarely, however, are existing portable receivers checked out and used; most people are either unaware of their availability, unwilling to fuss with the hassle, or averse to being conspicuous.) Over time there would be less and less need to purchase and maintain portable receivers as more and more people harness the power of the optimum assistive listening system.

For theaters, this means payback from increased attendance at movies and plays by people with hearing loss (many of whom report no longer going, because of the challenges of hearing). For courts, this means jurors who understand essential proceedings (and who can also be assisted in understanding jurors during deliberations). For auditoriums this means making one's events optimally accessible to all attendees.

See here for looped U.S. theaters/performing arts centers.

For examples of looped college auditoriums (at Hope College) see here.