Accessibility advancements realized in renovations to City Hall

Renovations and upgrades continue at Norman City Hall this month and contractors have recently begun installing hearing loops in public meeting rooms, a significant step in the City’s mission of Building an Inclusive Community.

“A hearing loop, sometimes called an audio induction loop, is a special type of sound system that may be used by people with hearing aids,” said Jesse Hill, City of Norman ADA (American with Disabilities Act) Technician for the City of Norman. “It allows the individual with a hearing disability to attend a meeting with the same ease as any other attendee and not be identified as have a disability, by not having to wear a headset or a device around the neck.

“It has always been our goal to ensure anyone has the ability to attend a City Council or public meeting and understand what is being spoken. It is equally important that we make our community members feel valued by not identifying individuals with a hearing disability, but by simply appreciating them as active members of the community.”

The hearing loop, Hill explained, provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is turned to a certain setting. The hearing loop consists of a microphone to pick up the spoken word; an amplifier, which processes the signal which is then sent through the final piece; and the loop cable, a wire placed around the perimeter of a specific area to act as an antenna that radiates the magnetic signal to the hearing aid. Additionally, the podium/lectern of Council Chambers will be made ADA-accessible as part of ongoing renovations.

Such upgrades are financed at a cost of $13,300 from ADA Capital Budget funds and have been longtime recommendations of the ADA Citizen Advisory Committee, a committee established in 2019 at the City of Norman. Other initiatives spearheaded by the committee and City of Norman to improve quality of life and best accommodate for the needs of all citizens are: the completion of an all-inclusive playground at Ruby Grant Park, soon-to-be accessible amenities at Lions Park, upgraded accessibility features at, ADA-accessible sidewalk installation in various parts of the community, the addition of a Chief Diversity & Equity Officer for the City of Norman, and various ADA training opportunities for staff and community members.

Renovations at the Municipal Complex are in Phase 1 of a multiple-phase project that will also consist of ADA improvements of restrooms, new carpet, painting and lighting, as well as new office-build out work for several departments.