Hello, my name is Janice Schacter Lintz and I am the CEO of Hearing Access & Innovations, formerly known as the Hearing Access Program, where I have been an advocate for 12 years, spearheading most of the hearing induction loop projects around NYC, including loops for subway information booths, taxis, and museums. I am also the mother of a 22-year old daughter who is hard of hearing. The US Access Board relied on my expertise, which I also provided at the request of the VP of Ecuador (https://janiceslintz.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/inclusion-without-frontiers-efficient-access-for-persons-with-hearing-impairments/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true), but the City has dismissed my input.
While I previously testified for bill 882 (Ex A), the current version no longer bears a resemblance to its former incarnation, and a full public hearing should be held on it, since it restricts the federal ADA, which the City cannot do.
The comments on a draft version by two officials at MOPD and Martha Alfaro, Deputy Chief at the NYC Law Department (Ex B), are deeply concerning and indicate that the intent is not to provide access but to limit it. Although the City forwarded the bill to various vendors for their input, vendors sell equipment and do not necessarily install what is best for the end user.
My issues with the bill are as follows:
1-The public was not invited to comment.
Bill 882-A (Ex C) was drafted without public input despite being markedly different from the non-A bill or 882. The City has not included hearing access on recent bids for the courthouse at 71Thomas Street and the new Hornblower ferries. The City cannot evade its responsibility to provide access nor the 504 complaints I filed.
2-The City’s exceptions and dollar thresholds are inconsistent with the ADA Standards.
See the opinion of the US Access Board:
From: “Yanchulis, Dave”
Date: March 13, 2017 at 1:27:00 PM EDT
To: “Capozzi, David”
Subject: RE: Is this bill legal?
Yes, the exceptions and dollar thresholds are inconsistent with the ADA Standards. On the other hand, city and state governments can implement design requirements that are less stringent than those of the ADA. The ADA Standards, as well as regulatory requirements for effective communication, must still be satisfied regardless of any state or local regulations or codes that are less stringent. In reply, I would say:
The ADA Standards, which apply in new construction, alterations, and additions, require provision of an assistive listening system (induction loop, FM system, infrared system, or direct-wired equipment) in all courtrooms as well as in each assembly area equipped with audio amplification where audible communication is integral to use of the space (see section 219). In addition, regulations issued under the ADA by the U.S. Department of Justice also require that covered entities furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services as necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities (sections 35.160 and 36.303).
The requirements in the ADA Standards for assistive listening systems apply without regard to construction costs and do not exempt specific categories of assembly areas, such as classrooms or courtrooms. They do allow other alternatives to induction loops, such as FM and infrared systems.
The ADA Standards and regulations must be satisfied in addition to any state or local laws, regulations, or codes. Where there is a difference, the more stringent requirement must be met.
U.S. Access Board
3-The number of loops.
Robert Piccolos’s comment to limit the number of loops on the draft bill (Ex B) is troubling. MOPD’s goal should not seek to limit loops but to expand them.
It is also disturbing that the City will not add loops in meeting rooms used for people to file complaints. The bill also seems to assume that people with hearing loss do not work for the City, since it does not include conference rooms or any loops in places of employment. Only access for visitors is covered. (Ex C)
4-The Mayor’s involvement is unprecedented.
It is very odd that the Mayor will be personally responsible for overseeing the technology used, since he has no expertise in this area. Will he be equally involved in overseeing physical and visual access?
The symbols recommended in the bill beyond the induction loop symbol are not clear. Visual symbols should be included in the bill to provide clarity about which symbol to use and when. The signs should be both inside and outside the room, as per RNID n/k/a Action on Hearing Loss:
“In the case of a reception area, the sign must be placed at the point where the loop equipment is effective. In the case of a meeting room, the loop sign should be placed at the entrance of the room, inside the room and also clear indications should be made where the equipment can be switched on.” (Ex D)
6-Capital projects after January 1, 2018 exclude the new Hornblower ferries.
Using this start date excludes the new Hornblower ferries and the recently renovated courthouse at 71 Thomas Street. The ADA was enacted in 1990, 27 years ago, and there is no provision to change the ADA’s start date. The City was aware of the need for hearing access for both projects, since I specifically notified the City prior to the start of both projects that hearing access should be implemented. It makes no sense that the access was not included, especially since I have email stating it will be.
7-Why are classrooms and courthouses being excluded?
The City cannot narrow the ADA. And shouldn’t the City want to ensure that all students, including those with hearing loss, receive an appropriate education?
8-The City cannot recommend proprietary technology.
In the second bill, a micro loop is recommended. This is not a defined term but rather a proprietary term used by Oval Window. (http://www.ovalwindowaudio.com/microloop.htm) It is inappropriate to use a potential vendor’s proprietary name in a bill. Bills should use generally accepted terms to provide clarity and avoid confusion.
The bill does not require periodic monitoring of the loops similar to the monitoring of elevators. Access is not effective if it does not work. (Ex D)
This bill is a starting point but needs the input of people who use the technology and/or their parents. A public hearing needs to be held prior to passage. Actually, a bill like this is not necessary, since the City merely needs to comply with the ADA unless it is expanding the ADA requirements, which would be the only reason to introduce a new bill, and that is not the case here.
I strongly urge the City Council not to pass this bill until the public’s voice is heard and the above issues are corrected.
The issues are resolved! The bill was approved by the Mental Health Committee and will be voted on tomorrow by the full Council.
The Chairman of Mental Health, Council Member Cohen made a statement on the record that this bill augments and does not replace the ADA to clarify this point. This was critical since to many people it will not be obvious. It appears to replace it which the City cannot do. Council Member Rosenthal has also agreed to introduce a technical bill to resolve the following issues:
*include drawings of the symbols to avoid errors.
*remove the term, “Microloop” which is proprietary and replace it with the technical term, induction loop.
*signage should be included inside and outside a room.
*real-time versus annual reporting of loops installed.
We are also going to work to see if looping classrooms is feasible and she is going to confirm that hearing access will be included on the Hornblower ferries.
I am very happy with these changes which overcome my issues and grateful for Council Members Rosenthal, Kallos and Goradnick along with the Speaker’s team who “heard” the issues. Advocacy and teamwork at its best!