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Information on ADA and California Building Code Requirements

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. It is summarized by: “No person shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation.”


The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, programs and services provided by state and local government, goods and services provided by private companies, and in commercial facilities.


This Act includes provisions to accommodate hard of hearing people, including incorporating Assistive Listening Systems in new building construction, in alterations or renovations to buildings and facilities of private companies providing goods or services to the public. It also requires that State and local governments provide access for the hard of hearing in programs offered to the public.



Types of Public Facilities that must comply with ADA Requirements


Places of public accommodation that must comply with ADA requirements include restaurants, hotels, theaters, convention centers, retail stores, shopping centers, dry cleaners, Laundromats, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, hospitals, museums, libraries, parks, zoos, amusement parks, private schools, day care centers, health spas and bowling alleys.


Commercial facilities are required to comply with ADA. They include office buildings, factories and warehouses whose operations affect commerce. In many states, religious organizations (including places of worship), residential housing, and private clubs do not need to comply. However, California Building Code requires places of worship to provide Assistive Listening Systems (see below).



ADA Requirements relating to Assistive Listening Systems


219 Assistive Listening Systems



  1. Where a building contains more than one assembly area and the assembly areas required to provide assistive listening systems are under one management, the total number of required receivers shall be permitted to be calculated according to the total number of seats in the assembly areas in the building provided that all receivers are usable with all systems.
  2. Where all seats in an assembly area are served by an induction loop assistive listening system, the minimum number of receivers required by Table 219.3 to be hearing-aid compatible shall not be required to be provided.

219.3 Receivers. Receivers complying with 706.2 shall be provided for assistive listening systems in each assembly area in accordance with Table 219.3. Twenty-five percent minimum of receivers provided, but no fewer than two, shall be hearing-aid compatible in accordance with 706.3.

219.1 General. Assistive listening systems shall be provided in accordance with 219 and shall comply with 706.


219.2 Required Systems. In each assembly area where audible communication is integral to the use of the space, an assistive listening system shall be provided.

Exception: Other than in courtrooms, assistive listening systems shall not be required where audio amplification is not provided.

Minimum Number of Required Receivers to be Hearing Aid Compatible

Capacity of Seating in Assembly Area

Minimum Number of

Required Receivers

50 or less



51 to 200


2, plus 1 per 25 seats over 50 seats*

201 to 500

1 per 4 receivers*

2, plus 1 per 25 seats over 50 seats*

501 to 1,000

1 per 4 receivers*

20, plus 1 per 33 seats over 500 seats*

1,000 to 2,000

1 per 4 receivers*

35, plus 1 per 50 seats over 1,000 seats*

2,001 and over

1 per 4 receivers*

55, plus 1 per 100 seats over 2,000 seats*

Table 219.3

Receivers for Assistive Listening Systems

*or fraction thereof

216 Signs

216.10 Assistive Listening Systems. Each assembly area required by 219 to provide assistive listening systems shall provide signs informing patrons of the availability of the assistive listening system. Assistive listening signs shall comply with 703.5 and shall include the International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss complying with 703.7.2.4.

Exception: Where ticket offices or windows are provided, signs shall not be required at each assembly area provided that signs are displayed at each ticket office or window informing patrons of the availability of assistive listening systems.

703 Signs

703.7 Symbols of Accessibility

703.7.2.4 Assistive Listening Systems. Assistive listening systems shall be identified by the International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss complying with Figure 703.7.2.4.

Figure 703.2.4

International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss

706 Assistive Listening Systems

706.3 Receiver Hearing-Aid Compatibility. Receivers required to be hearing-aid compatible shall interface with telecoils in hearing aids through the provision of neckloops.


Advisory 706.3. Receiver Hearing-Aid Compatibility. Neckloops and headsets that can be worn as neckloops are compatible with hearing aids. Receivers that are not compatible include earbuds, which may require removal of hearing aids, earphones, and headsets that must be worn over the ear, which can create disruptive interference in the transmission and can be uncomfortable for people with hearing aids.

Additional information can be found at:



California Building Code Requirements relating to Assistive Listening Systems


The State of California relies on the California Building Code (CBC) to outline the compliance laws for facilities that serve people with hearing disabilities in California.


According to sections 11B-219 and 11B-706, an assistive listening system shall be provided in assembly areas, including conference and meeting rooms.


Exception: This section does not apply to systems used exclusively for paging, background music, or a combination of these two uses.


In section 11B-244.1, the CBC states: “Religious facilities shall be accessible in accordance with the provisions of this code. Where specific areas within religious facilities contain more than one use, each portion shall comply with the applicable requirements for that use.”


The CBC is reviewed and updated every three years. In California, if a facility is not compliant, the local building department is the enforcement agency per Health and Safety Code 19958. Additional information can be found at:

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