Why Assistive Listening Systems Are Crucial to MNEC

In the event of an emergency, public venues need to be able to notify patrons with hearing disabilities.

Haley Heaton

An assistive listening system needs to be a consideration in any emergency notification system. If you have someone with a hearing disability, you want them to have the same notification as a hearing person. The trouble is that although assistive listening systems are mandatory in many public spaces under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many of these public spaces and venues do not consider the importance of assistive listening for their patrons on a regular basis, let alone in the case of an emergency.

Perhaps looking at this in a more real scenario will provide more understanding. In the event that there were a fire in a movie theater, the movie theater manager would certainly want to help everyone in attendance exit the theaters safely, including those with disabilities—this is why fire alarms exists. But what if you can’t hear the fire alarm? How are you notified that there is an emergency? There needs to be a notification system to better serve those with hearing loss, in these types of scenarios. The best solution for this, is to provide emergency notification over assistive listening systems that are already required by the ADA.

Related: ADA Regulations Create Opportunities For Manufacturers and Integrators

In order for a venue to provide notification of an emergency situation over their assistive listening system, they would need to have a system that had multiple feeds into the system, so that a notification could be sent over various listening channels; feeds to all channels would be necessary in order to accommodate everyone listening. A product that does this very well, is the LT-84 ListenIR Transmitter/Radiator Combo from Listen Technologies, which provides more than one input allowing a sound source to be broadcast, as well as an emergency notification, so that people using the assistive listening system would immediately receive the emergency message. It is important to make sure that an assistive listening system is compatible and allows up to three inputs, like the LT-84 mentioned above, so that any emergency announcement can be relayed to an assistive listening receiver.

Regardless of the venue or type of public space, this is a critical issue. With mandatory requirements for assistive listening systems in classrooms, theaters, stadiums, museums, and other crowded places where emergencies might occur, it is important to have the ability to notify everyone, including anyone wearing a hearing aid, anyone with a cochlear implant, or those who are using an assistive listening device/receiver. People who have hearing loss need the same notification in the case of an emergency, which can easily be accomplished with an assistive listening system.