Know Your Rights: Accessibility & Public Spaces

Dr. David DekriekCommunication, hearing loss, lifestyle, Tips & Tricks

Over 20 years ago, the groundbreaking Americans with Disabilities Act (known as the ADA) provided a new standard for the civil rights of people living with disabilities for access and participate in society. In essence, the Americans with Disabilities Act makes discrimination against the disabled illegal. With this goal, the ADA greatly increased the rights of people with disabilities to access accommodations, jobs and services. Many of ADA’s provisions apply to the rights of people with hearing loss, and help provide recourse when those rights are violated.

Accommodating Hearing Loss

A major provision of the ADA is insuring that people’s disabilities are accommodated in everyday life. This means that public institutions and government, workplaces and other places of business are all required to provide reasonable accommodations to assist those with disabilities.

For hearing loss, these accommodations can take many forms. Hotels and motels should be able to supply lodgers with vibrating alarms and alerts if requested. Public institutions like museums should have a written transcription available for audio guides. Events like public lectures or meetings of local government need to be able to provide adequate assistance for people with hearing limitations. Services like captioning, sign language interpreters or telecoil loop broadcasting may be available.

Accommodating a disability is needed to prevent discrimination and is especially critical in matters where a person’s full and complete understanding is necessary, such as when discussing medical care or a legal matter. The ADA has strict provisions to ensure that people with disabilities can access the information they need to make fully informed life decisions. 

Hearing Loss and Disability

Early in the life of the ADA, whether or not hearing loss constituted a disability was often called into question and even ruled against in court. To clarify what the ADA covers in regards to hearing loss, an Amendments Act was passed in 2008 which defined a disability as a mental or physical impairment that limits major life activity.

Using this broad and clarified definition, hearing loss often falls under the protection of ADA regulation. This is great news for people with hearing limitations. More and more, accommodations for hearing loss are becoming better understood and more widespread. Over the years, the ADA has been broadened to support fair and just treatment in employment, housing, air travel, voting and telecommunication.

Many people with hearing loss don’t view themselves as having a disability, because they see their hearing loss as a treatable condition. Even with treatment by hearing devices or surgery however, hearing loss may still require specific accommodations to best access spaces and services. While some accommodations will be readily available, other services may need to be requested. If you are a person with hearing loss, asking for the accommodations you need is important. Not only does it allow you to more fully participate in a situation, it also helps normalize disability access accommodations in the larger culture.

Hearing Loss and Discrimination

If you want to learn more about what the ADA does and does not cover you can read more about it at the ADA’s website, ada.gov . On the site you’ll find outlines and case studies about how the regulation laid out in the ADA works and exactly what it covers.

Even with the ADA in place as law, discrimination against people with disabilities persists. Fortunately, recourse is available to challenge discrimination. If you believe you have been discriminated against, you can file an ADA complaint with the Department of Justice.

Fidelity Hearing Centers

Your hearing loss should never limit the fullness of your life. At Fidelity Hearing Centers, we believe that treating hearing loss helps you stay on top of your overall health. We offer complete and comprehensive hearing exams and personal, nuanced care. When it comes to finding your first (or next) hearing aid model, Fidelity Hearing offers you a large selection of options from the most reliable names in the field.

Our hearing specialists know hearing care inside and out and can help you connect with the best solution for your needs. We can also help you learn more about further resources for people with hearing loss. If you’ve noticed issues with your hearing, it’s time to reach out and set up an appointment with Fidelity Hearing Centers today!