Advocacy Success!

Mayor 2017 billMayor Bill de Blasio was joined at the bill-signing ceremony at City Hall by, from left: Council Member Helen Rosenthal, HLAA-NYC Chapter President Katherine Bouton, MOPD Deputy Commissioner Kleo King, Chapter member and accessibility advocate Jerry Bergman, MOPD Deputy Commissioner Robert Piccolo, former City Council student intern Edward Friedman, and Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.

On March 21, 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill believed to make New York the nation’s first major municipality to require hearing loops in places of public assembly.

The new law applies to construction and renovation projects funded by the City at a cost of $950,000 or more. Council Member Helen Rosenthal of Manhattan, lead sponsor of the bill, estimates that, under the City’s current capital plans, loops will be installed in close to 300 new projects throughout the five boroughs.

“Hearing loop technology makes such a radical difference in the ability of so many to participate fully in public life,” said Council Member Rosenthal. “I’m proud that as a city we have moved to make it not just a priority but a requirement in our public investments.”

HLAA-NYC Chapter President Katherine Bouton added, “We look forward to the day when all who wear hearing devices can walk into City meeting halls and hear, understand, and communicate with others.”

The new law requires at least one assembly area and one adjacent security, information, or reception area to be looped. It also specifies that by July 2018 the Mayor’s office must post on its website a list of such facilities owned or operated by the city. For details about the new law, click here.

This is reprinted from the Hearing Loss Association of America-New York City Chapter website:

3 thoughts on “Advocacy Success!

  1. This is wonderful progress for those with hearing loss and a step in the right direction for accessibility so I support this.

    However, i like to spotlight the need for advocacy and awareness of the diversity of hearing loss, and hence
    the need to approach accessibility awareness for those with hearing loss with a universal design approach, and accommodations that reflect that.

    What kind of awareness would i like to see?

    Awareness such as the fact that not every one who wears hearing devices (be it hearing aids or cochlear implant) can benefit from audio induction loops. Many of those with more severe and profound hearing losses might fit into this category, depending on the person. They may still be wearing a hearing device though for various reasons (modulation, regulation, environmental sounds, speech cues/hints, sound pattern recognition to guide them, and so forth) but be unable to benefit from audio induction loop.

    Hearing loss is a spectrum. The audio induction loop may not be strong enough, or reliable enough for the more severe hearing losses. But they are still wearing hearing devices. Where do these people fit in when folks advocate for audio induction loops for those wearing hearing devices and yet they don’t find it beneficial if they have more severe losses?

    ADA law of effective communication (2010 revision) reflects this need to make communication effective. The person may need audio induction loop, CART, or ASL.

    Audio Induction Loops while it benefits many, it should also be made clear that it is not a universal design access. To make places accessible to all, Loops, CART and ASL need to be available. A Universal design access awareness should be part of advocacy work. True, the mild and moderate hearing loss population is larger then the severe and profound hearing loss population, who in turn is larger then the ASL/signing population. It should be noted that the largest deaf population are the late deaf who do not use sign language, and they may or may not benefit from audio induction loops which typically caters to those with more functionally mild and moderate losses as a generalization. These people most likely could benefit from other effective communication accommodations such as CART or live real time captioning.

    HLAA is a wonderful organization and I fully support it. However I would like to see HLAA be more representative of all those with hearing loss and not just those who are functionally mild and moderate hearing losses, the ones most likely to benefit from audio induction loop technology. That leaves many of the severe and profound hearing loss folks out when it comes to accessibility awareness and who uses what type of accommodation.

    What is helpful is representation of all those with hearing loss and their need for audio induction loops, CART and ASL for effective communication access when doing advocacy work.

    It is helpful if HLAA would get sponsors on board for captioning in all its form (closed, open, live and so forth), CART and related real time captioning in their magazines and Walk A Thon events. Big bucks here. I often see audio induction loop companies, audiologist who sell hearing aids, and cochlear implant companies sponsor and advertise in HLAA magazines and events for example and this helps push forward and promote audio induction loop technology accessibility.

    Don’t get me wrong. I fully support Audio Induction Loops for those who benefit from it, much like the need for ASL accessibility. We all need accessibility but a Universal design approach needs to be spotlighted when working with media on hearing loss awareness. The ADA 2010 revision of what is effective communication is a start in raising awareness of the diversity and complexity of hearing loss.

    Having said all this, that is wonderful that loops are being provided. But remember we are all ‘fighting to be heard’. Audio induction loops, CART, ASL are examples of effective communication and what is effective depends on the person. I like to see advocacy raising awareness of the myriad of communication accommodations that a person with hearing loss might need for equal accessibility.



    • Donna, I agree completely with you that we need to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all accommodation for those with hearing loss. I’ve written about this many times, including in a post last year titled No Wheelchair Ramp for the Deaf.. (The link is Meeting of the Hearing Loss Association of America provide, looping, CART captioning and ASL interpreters. If a meeting is held in a public place and you can’benefit from the loop, ask for CART captioning, or, if you’re Deaf, for an ASL interpreter.
      Thanks for this thoughtful comment.


  2. Yes, we are on the same page – Advocacy for all.

    i personally would love to see in advocacy work for hearing accessibility of making live captioning a default access in places of public assembly, as well as audio induction loops. You mentioned that audio induction loops will now get recognized with the bill you mentioned in NY that got passed for public assembly (and that’s great) , but can live captioning also get recognized at these places considering how Universally designed live captioning is in reaching the widest range of people with hearing loss? Can that be part of the bill as well? Just a thought for HLAA to consider in their advocacy work for those with hearing loss. It would be nice to have it already in place at public assemblies w/o people having to ask being a universal design accomodation that reaches quite a wide range of people.

    Many people with mild and moderate hearing losses can read captioning. Many with severe and profound hearing losses can read captioning. Many of the culturally Deaf/ASL camp can read captioning. Captioning is
    more of a Universal Design Access in that respect for large meetings. People with CAPD and ADD etc use it too.

    Of course that doesn’t mean it covers everyone. We know it is not a one size fits all. For some it is not effective. Just that it deserves a rightful place in the sense that screens for all to view should be in place at public assemblies so people who wish to read the captioning can do so. It should already be there any more then audio induction loops at public assemblies.

    Audio Induction loops are great. Just that i think they should be making live captioning mandatory as well at public assemblies and w/o people having to ask, and it would be nice to see live captioning as part of the bill for public assemblies and not just audio induction loop.

    Why captioning at public assemblies as a default access that should be in place?

    I know many people who benefit partially from the audio induction loops also like to see the captioning to fill in the words they missed that the loops can’t provide for them. They switch their cochlear implant or hearing aid to T coil to access the audio induction loop and also view the captioning screen to fill in the parts they missed. For some, that combination is very effective. For the lipreading folks, they also use the live captioning to fill in the blanks. For others, the audio induction loop is too muffled for them to benefit from it and they read the captioning exclusively.

    For others still, their primary language is ASL, but i know many ASL users who also like the live captioning to fill in the blanks they missed from interpreters, or technical words that the interpreter is struggling with. I have even seen sign language interpreters using the captioning to help with the interpreting. The captioning also reaches out to those with other issues (CAPD, ADD and so forth). For all these reasons, it makes live captioning a universal design accommodation in public assemblies if a variety of people can benefit from it.

    Certainly we all have our preferences, as well as what is most effective for each and every one of us, and certainly we are diverse and complicated, but personally I think venues should provide captioning as well as part of a hearing accessibility bill.

    I would love to see HLAA support that prospect of expecting live captioning screens up and running at public assemblies besides the audio induction loops. Can we get that on hearing accessibility bills too?

    To be fair, audio induction loops, CART, and ASL interpreters should all be in place at public assemblies w/o people having to ask for them. They got the ramps up right?



Please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s