hearing loop
ASSISTIVE LISTENING SYSTEM SUMMARY  from the ADA - Standards for Accessible Design


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

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.

2010 Notice of Changes in the ADA Standards for Accessible Design

In 2010 the Department of Justice’s revised regulations for Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 were published in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010.

To review the complete scope and technical requirements for new construction and alterations resulting from the adoption of revised 2010 Standards in the final rules for Title II (28 CFR part 35) and Title III (28 CFR part 36) go to  http://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm

On March 15, 2012 the changes that were made in 2010 to the ADA related to assistive listening systems went into effect on all newly constructed or altered facilities with assembly areas stating that these must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards for Assistive Listening Systems.



  • Assembly Area. 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, classrooms, lecture halls, courtrooms, public meeting rooms, public hearing rooms, legislative chambers, motion picture houses, auditorium, theaters, playhouses, dinner theaters, concert halls, centers for the performing arts, amphitheaters, arenas, stadiums, grandstands, or convention centers.

  • Assistive Listening System (ALS). 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, or direct-wired equipment.

216.10 Assistive Listening Systems. Each assembly area required by 219 to provide assistive listening systems shall provide signs informing patrons of the availability of the assistive listening system. Assistive listening signs shall comply with 703.5 and shall include the International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss complying with 703.7.2.4.

EXCEPTION: Where ticket offices or windows are provided, signs shall not be required at each assembly area provided that signs are displayed at each ticket office or window informing patrons of the availability of assistive listening systems.

219 Assistive Listening Systems

219.1 General. Assistive listening systems shall be provided in accordance with 219 and shall comply with 706.

219.2 Required Systems. In each assembly area where audible communication is integral to the use of the space, an assistive listening system shall be provided.

EXCEPTION: Other than in courtrooms, assistive listening systems shall not be required where audio amplification is not provided.

219.3 Receivers. Receivers complying with 706.2 shall be provided for assistive listening systems in each assembly area in accordance with Table 219.3. Twenty-five percent minimum of receivers provided, but no fewer than two, shall be hearing-aid compatible in accordance with 706.3.


          1. Where a building contains more than one assembly area and the assembly areas required to provide assistive listening systems are under one management, the total number of required receivers shall be permitted to be calculated according to the total number of seats in the assembly areas in the building provided that all receivers are usable with all systems.
          2. Where all seats in an assembly area are served by an induction loop assistive listening system, the minimum number of receivers required by Table 219.3 to be hearing-aid compatible shall not be required to be provided.

Table 219.3 Receivers for Assistive Listening Systems

Capacity of Seating in Assembly Area

Minimum Number of Required Receivers

Minimum Number of Required Receivers Required to be Hearing-aid Compatible

50 or less



51 to 200

2, plus 1 per 25 seats

over 50 seats*


201 to 500

2, plus 1 per 25 seats

over 50 seats*

1 per 4 receivers*

501 to 1000

20, plus 1 per 33 seats

over 500 seats*

1 per 4 receivers*

1001 to 2000

35, plus 1 per 50 seats

over 1000 seats*

1 per 4 receivers*

2001 and over

55 plus 1 per 100 seats

over 2000 seats*

1 per 4 receivers*

*Or fraction thereof

703.7.2.4 Assistive Listening Systems. Assistive listening systems shall be identified by the International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss complying with Figure 703.7.2.4.

Figure 703.7.2.4

International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss

706 Assistive Listening Systems

706.1 General. Assistive listening systems required in assembly areas shall comply with 706.

Advisory 706.1 General. Assistive listening systems are generally categorized by their mode of transmission. There are hard-wired systems and three types of wireless systems: induction loop, infrared, and FM radio transmission. Each has different advantages and disadvantages that can help determine which system is best for a given application. For example, an FM system may be better than an infrared system in some open-air assemblies since infrared signals are less effective in sunlight. On the other hand, an infrared system is typically a better choice than an FM system where confidential transmission is important because it will be contained within a given space. The technical standards for assistive listening systems describe minimum performance levels for volume, interference, and distortion. Sound pressure levels (SPL), expressed in decibels, measure output sound volume. Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR or S/N), also expressed in decibels, represents the relationship between the loudness of a desired sound (the signal) and the background noise in a space or piece of equipment. The higher the SNR, the more intelligible the signal. The peak clipping level limits the distortion in signal output produced when high-volume sound waves are manipulated to serve assistive listening devices. Selecting or specifying an effective assistive listening system for a large or complex venue requires assistance from a professional sound engineer. The Access Board has published technical assistance on assistive listening devices and systems.

706.2 Receiver Jacks. Receivers required for use with an assistive listening system shall include a 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) standard mono jack.

706.3 Receiver Hearing-Aid Compatibility. Receivers required to be hearing-aid compatible shall interface with telecoils in hearing aids through the provision of neckloops.

Advisory 706.3 Receiver Hearing-Aid Compatibility. Neckloops and headsets that can be worn as neckloops are compatible with hearing aids. Receivers that are not compatible include earbuds, which may require removal of hearing aids, earphones, and headsets that must be worn over the ear, which can create disruptive interference in the transmission and can be uncomfortable for people wearing hearing aids.

706.4 Sound Pressure Level. Assistive listening systems shall be capable of providing a sound pressure level of 110 dB minimum and 118 dB maximum with a dynamic range on the volume control of 50 dB.

706.5 Signal-to-Noise Ratio. The signal-to-noise ratio for internally generated noise in assistive listening systems shall be 18 dB minimum.

706.6 Peak Clipping Level. Peak clipping shall not exceed 18 dB of clipping relative to the peaks of speech.