Accommodating the Hearing Impaired 3-1-1998

Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio March 1998 Current Issue
March 1998 ChecklistPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:



Accommodating the Hearing Impaired


  • According to current Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, facilities with a seating capacity of 50-plus must have a permanently installed assisted listening system (ALS). An audio induction loop is the best system for indoor meetings with a large number of hearing-impaired attendees.
  • If the facility has a seating capacity of less than 50, request a portable ALS. The ADA recommends an ALS that will serve four percent of seating capacity. Portable systems available include frequency modulation systems and infrared systems.
  • Make sure the ALS equipment is functioning properly. Replace or recharge the batteries and replace the ear pads on receivers.
  • Take into account any structural obstacles, such as poles and columns, that may block participants view of speakers, interpreters, and video and real-time captioning screens.
  • Reserve front row seats for hearing-impaired attendees.
  • International hearing-impaired signs, indicating which services are available, should be placed in a clearly visible location.

  • Provide qualified sign language interpreters. The most commonly requested service is an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter.
  • Ask interpreters if they are certified by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, and check certification.
  • To reduce translation error, provide interpreters with a list of names and definitions of any technical terms before the meeting.
  • If the program is more than two hours in length, provide two interpreters, allowing for breaks.
  • Place interpreters in a well-lit area and directly in front of those who require their service.
  • If using real-time captioning, make sure letters are large enough for easy reading and that the speed is no more than 200 words per minute.
  • If using computer-assisted note-taking (CANing), make sure the note-taker is familiar with the material and terminology being presented.
  • Place the speaker's microphone at chin level and within six-inches of his or her mouth; this way the mouth and facial expression are visible.
  • Make sure speakers enunciate clearly, speak slowly and maintain a consistent volume level.
  • Instruct speakers not to turn away from the microphone or stand with their backs to the audience.
  • When conducting question-and-answer sessions, use a portable microphone to work the audience.
  • All meeting materials should indicate which hearing impaired services are available to attendees.

  • At least one amplified or hearing-aid compatible telephone should be available.
  • Request telephones that alert guests to incoming calls with a flashing light.
  • Televisions should have a built-in or separate closed-captioned decoder.
  • Doors should be equipped with vibrating door-knock signal.
  • Request vibrotactile (flashing and vibrating) or flashing-light alarm clocks.
  • Flashing smoke and fire alarms should be installed in each room.

  • Provide hearing-aid compatible telephones wherever public telephones are available.
  • Provide at least one telephone with an amplified headset for every bank of four telephones.
  • Provide an installed teletypewriter (TTY) for every bank of four telephones.
  • The front desk, as well as reservations desk, should have TTYs to handle outside calls and calls from guest rooms.
  • List TTY numbers of the facility and any sponsoring organizations in the meeting package.
  • Notes:

    This checklist was compiled with the help of Communication Access: Everyone's Right (A Handbook for Meeting Planners, Conference Site Managers and People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing), by Paula Brown Glick, Ph.D., Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, Jackson Heights, N.Y. © 1997

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