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Greenstein Bill to Increase Hearing Accessibility in Public Spaces Advances

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein that would benefit individuals who rely on hearing aids and cochlear implants by mandating the installation of induction loop listening systems in certain public spaces was approved by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today.

“Visits to the grocery store, attending religious services and even going out to eat can be stressful for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer). “Increasing the presence of induction loop listening systems throughout the state would improve the quality of life for many who use hearing aids or cochlear implants. The loop shuts out distracting background noises, enabling users to hear the sounds they want with more clarity and making simple moments more enjoyable.”

The bill, S-3660 would require buildings that are under new construction or substantial renovation to include the installation of an induction loop listening system.

Under the bill, the owner of an area of public assembly or service would be required to have and maintain an induction loop listening system accompanied by prominently visible, permanent signage indicating its accessibility for users.

Used most often to help improve listening in churches, theaters, airports, or at home, an “induction loop listening system” is a hardwired assistive listening system in which a loop of wire around an area of a building produces a signal received directly by hearing aids and cochlear implants used by individuals with hearing loss. The system magnetically transmits sound to hearing aids and cochlear implants that are equipped with telecoil features, and have the effect of filtering out background noise.

The bill would define an “area of public assembly or service” to mean a building or structure, or space within a building or structure, that is regularly open for public gatherings. This would include theaters, courtrooms, community centers, libraries, pharmacy counters, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, or any other category of space designated by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) as an area of public assembly or service.

The bill cleared committee by a vote of 3-1.