Assistive Listening & The ADA – Better Audio For All

By Josiah “Oz” Ostoich, Sales/Marketing

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It is important to know how the law affects you, and the Live Sound industry is no exception. Most venues are required by the ADA to have some sort of assistive listening capability or system available for those who live with a hearing disability. Depending on the size of the environment, the number of available seats, and several other factors, the configuration of the system can vary. Here are a few important things to keep in mind when thinking about your space and how to achieve ADA compliance:

What is the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a law that prohibits the discrimination against Americans affected by disabilities. Part of this legislation includes provisions to accommodate those with hearing deficits.

 When do you need to include Assistive Listening?

You need an assistive listening system in any assembly area where being able to hear is an integral part of why it exists. An assembly area is defined as “a building or facility, or a portion therof that is used for the purpose of entertainment, education, civic gatherings, or similar purposes.” This means that most concert halls, performing arts centers, churches, and other spaces require assistive listening systems. It is also required if there is any kind of amplified sound. However, even some environments that do not have amplified sound may require assistive listening, such as courtrooms. If you are unsure if your space needs an assistive listening system, you can contact us and we can help you determine your needs.

Why should I comply with the ADA?

It is important to make sure that everyone who visits your space is able to participate with what’s going on. Doing so can be beneficial from ethical, legal, and business standpoints.

A large number of individuals in the US are affected by a hearing disability. By providing the ability for them to hear in these environments, you are allowing them to enter into an experience that otherwise might be closed to them. Providing an environment that is welcoming to all kinds of people can improve their experience and make more people feel welcome in your space. The sheer numbers of people affected by hearing loss means that there will usually be an opportunity to provide someone with a better experience via assistive listening.

There are also tax incentives available for businesses complying with the ADA in this way. You can read more here:

What do I need to provide in order to be compliant with the ADA?

What an ADA compliant assistive listening system is changes from venue to venue. A few factors affect how many and what kinds of listening devices you need, as well as signage and other compliance requirements.

The assistive listening system is required to cover the entire assembly area or areas. The number of assembly areas and total capacity of those areas change the number of devices. It is also important to plan where the devices are distributed and if they would be compatible across all areas. A certain number of those devices will also have to be compatible with t-coil hearing aids.

There are calculators online that can help you calculate the number of devices. You can find a few of them here and here.

It is also important to be sure to post the required signage to indicate that you have ADA compliant devices available.

If you are not sure about what you need, you can always contact us and we can help you determine the best way to comply with the ADA.

What are my options for assistive listening devices?

There is a wide variety of manufacturers, technologies, and configurations for assistive listning, and there are many ways to approach implementing a new assistive listening system into your space. TC Furlong Inc. believes that all audio systems, including assistive listening systems, are better when designed specific to each space. If you would like help determining your best options and designing your assistive listening system, feel free to contact our sales team at 847-367-9588 or

Better Audio By Design should be Better Audio For All.


Disclaimer: This blog post is intended to supply general information on the ADA and assistive listening systems. It should not be a substitute for legal advice or opinions from your own attorney.