The American Disabilities Act (ACT)
The American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 established a series of measures to prohibit situations of discrimination because of a person’s disability. The ADA law requires that the communication needs of hard of hearing and deaf be provided with such reasonable accommodations. For the hard of hearing, it means providing an FM or a telecoil loop hearing system.
The law states:
“No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or any place of the public: by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation.”
The law continues discrimination to include:
“…failure to take such as may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services…”
Any place of public gathering is required to provide effective means of communication for hard of hearing individuals. According to ADA standards, it is up to the institution to pay for any reasonable accommodations. If an institution does not comply by providing a hearing system for hard of hearing individuals, it may suffer severe penalties.
Providing access to an assistive listening system is not only the law, but it is the right thing to do. It includes hearing disabled people and helps them feel part of the fellowship.
Hearing loss is the most significant disability covered under the ADA. Nearly 20% of every congregation has members that need assistive listening units.