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Three Considerations for Audio ADA Compliance in Large Venues

Williams AV’s Tom Mingo shares three areas AV professionals need to consider when it comes to stadium audio.

1. Transmission Signal

In larger venues, there are two primary assistive listening signals that work best: FM and Wi-Fi.

FM systems operate in the 72.1–75.9 MHz range and can support an unlimited number of receivers. Transmission range with FM systems tends to be about 1,000 to 1,200 feet, depending on the amount of potentially interfering environmental conditions like structure, other equipment, etc. These systems are designed to broadcast to FM receiver/headsets worn by users who request accommodations based on their hearing needs.

Wi-Fi systems operate on the existing house network or can be configured to run on a dedicated network. These systems give the users the ability to download an app to their device, and—when on the same Wi-Fi network as the Wi-Fi listening system—use their own phone, earphones, etc. to listen to the signals being broadcast. Integrators need to consider limitations when using Wi-Fi systems, like providing ample network strength to support the anticipated number of users.

2. Consider the Audience

When selecting between the two primary transmission technologies, FM and Wi-Fi, it is important to consider who the audience for listening devices will be.

Younger users will almost always prefer to use their own device as the listening source. This allows the user to be more discreet in their requirements for assistive listening and to use a technology with which they are extremely comfortable.

Elderly users tend not to have the same comfort level in downloading apps and using smartphones for assistive listening. They tend to prefer to request the assistive listening device from the venue and have it preconfigured to work simply by turning it on.

3. Number of Potential Users

ADA compliance requires a certain number of assistive listening devices be available based on the number of seats in the venue, but the number of devices required is not a set percentage of all available seats. Depending on the size of the venue, required available devices tend to range between 1 and 4 percent of total seats. In addition to having these assistive listening devices available, ADA compliance also requires that a certain percentage of these devices support neckloops. Neckloops are systems attached to the receivers that are meant to be used by t-coil-equipped hearing aid users. This allows those users to have the signal broadcast into their hearing aid, rather than having to wear over-the-ear headphones.

Because the required number of devices changes based on total venue seating capacity, Williams AV has incorporated a free ADA Calculator on its website to assist integrators with designing systems that will meet the requirements. Visit williamssound.com/ada-calculator to use it.