The New York City Council passed Local Law 51 of 2017 requiring the installation of an induction loop assistive listening system or successor technology in at least one of any planned assembly areas for new construction or rehabilitation projects with City financing and an estimated construction cost of $950,000 or above. This law is effective on January 1, 2018 and applies to projects for which an application for construction document approval is filed with the DOB.
Induction Loop or T- Loop, is an assistive listening system that provides access to facilities for people with a hearing impairment. An induction loop transfers a sound source directly to a hearing aid or compatible headset without background noise or interference. For people who don’t use hearing aids but have significant hearing loss, or have older hearing aids which may not be compatible with induction loop wiring, T-Loop compatible headsets can be provided. The technology helps people with various types and levels of hearing loss, including those who are hesitant to wear a hearing aid due to fear of stigma.
An assembly area is a portion of a building or facility used for the purpose of entertainment, educational or civic gatherings, or similar purposes in which audible communication is integral to the use of the place. This does not include classrooms in schools; facilities primarily used to deploy first responders; courthouses and outdoor facilities such as athletic fields and stadiums.
The law requires that each capital project with an estimated construction cost of $950,000 or more involving the construction or reconstruction of one or more assembly areas to be designed and constructed to include in at least one assembly area the installation of an induction loop system or an alternative assistive listening system.
In addition, each security, information, or reception desk used for the checking-in or screening of persons attending a meeting or event held in a looped assembly area must be equipped with microloops.
Directional signage that includes guidance to an assistive listening assembly area must be provided and the entrance and any security, information, or reception area must also display the international symbol of access for hearing loss and a “T” in the lower right-hand corner of such symbol indicating the availability of an induction loop system or a symbol indicating an alternative system if applicable.
This law does not apply to the rehabilitation of an assembly area if the estimated cost of installing the system exceeds 5% of the baseline construction cost of the project.
In addition, the law does not apply to capital projects involving the construction or reconstruction of assembly areas that are not owned by the city unless 50 percent or more of the estimated cost of such project is to be paid for out of the city treasury (this exemption does not apply to any capital project that receives $1,000,000 or more out of the city treasury).
This technology is widely utilized across New York City and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) maintains a current list of looped venues in the city.