Induction Loop systems (often known as AFILS or Hearing Loops) are a legal requirement for many businesses. These assistive devices ensure an environment is as inclusive as possible for visitors who may be hard of hearing.
When considering whether your business should have induction loop available there are many legal and best practice guidelines to consider, we have summarised some of the most notable here to help make sense of what is required from your business.
The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 combines a number of laws including the Disability Discrimination Act and defines 9 protected characteristics, including disability. The Equality Act 2010 stipulates:
“Service providers are required to make changes, where needed, to improve service for disabled customers or potential customers. There is a legal requirement to make reasonable changes to the way things are done (such as changing a policy), to the built environment (such as making changes to the structure to improve access) and to provide auxiliary aids and services (such as providing information in an accessible format, an induction loop for customers with hearing aids, special computer software or additional staff support when using a service).”
BS 8300: Buildings Code of Practice 2018
BS 8300 is a code of practice compiled by the British Standards Institution detailing the required design of buildings for meeting the needs of disabled people, the updated 2018 BS 8300 provides definition on the appropriate level of provision and installation for hearing loops. A complete annex is included within the BS 8300-2 standard detailing hearing loop requirements.
“Ticket sales and information points that are located in noisy environments or that have security screens should have at least one position fitted with a hearing enhancement (induction loop).”
“A hearing enhancement system, using induction loop, infrared or radio transmission, should be installed in rooms and spaces used for meetings, lectures, classes, performances, spectator sport or films, and at service or reception counters where the background noise level is high or where glazed screens are used.”
There is now a requirement for reactive and preventative maintenance of hearing loop systems, using a provider with specialist knowledge.
Part M of the Building Regulations
Part M of the Building Regulations provides specific guidance for the installation of induction loop systems both in general and with specific businesses in mind. Part M makes specific mention to entertainment and social venues, in addition to service and reception counters, preferred solutions and location considerations.
“In order to obtain the full benefit of attending public performances or taking part in discussions, a person with impaired hearing needs to receive a signal that is amplified in both volume and signal to noise ratio. The three systems commonly used to provide this enhanced level of sound are induction loops, infrared and radio.”
IEC (BS:EN) 60118-4
This international standard is applicable to audio-frequency induction loop systems intended to provide an input signal for hearing aids operating with an induction pick up coil.
The standard specifies requirements for the field strength in audio frequency induction loops for hearing aid purposes, which will give adequate signal to noise ratio without overloading the hearing aid. The standard also specifies the minimum frequency response requirements for acceptable intelligibility.
Working to these standards
Induction loop systems are a legal requirement for a wide variety of businesses.
Working to these standards, and understanding the application and need on a business by business basis is very important to us here at MSI. Not only so that the legal obligation is fulfilled; but also to leave our clients with the knowledge that the work was carried out correctly and the end user will benefit from our expertise.
We would love to hear from you, be it for more advice or to discuss a specific project. Please get in touch with us on 0191 2762076 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.