Posts tagged AV in the classroom

Making AV Tech ADA Compliant in Higher Education

Jay Bosch, a director of business development for AVI-SPL, contributes with this post on ensuring ADA compliance in higher education. Note that AVI-SPL will host a Legrand | AV webinar on AV and ADA compliance on Sept. 4.

Starting an “All Students” approach to ensure ADA compliance in your classroom

Students come to class with a desire to learn. However, sometimes there are challenges that need to be overcome in order for every student to have an equal opportunity to learn.  Employing an “all students” approach to the classroom allows every student to engage with instructors live or via remote means.  Also, classroom design is rapidly changing, and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance should be considered in all classroom formats. 

As learning environments become more interactive, ADA compliance can provide its own challenges.  Working with a professional audio/visual integration company can ensure your classrooms incorporate every students’ needs.  The education landscape and related technology evolves quickly.  It is important to build flexibility in your investment which includes the latest classroom designs and methods including distance learning, e-learning, hands-on learning, simulation and others. 


  • Competition to maintain and grow student population will increase as on-line offerings become more prevalent. This includes all students.
  • As the general population — including people with disabilities — relies increasingly on mobile devices, teaching will follow this migration and leverage it to better engage “smartphone-centric” students.
  • The pressure to stretch education dollars will likely drive the growth of e-learning, distance education, and any other pedagogical method that is more efficient and cost-effective than traditional classroom-based learning.
  • As all of these advances occur, ADA standards will adapt and expand to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind.
  • All new buildings and remodels should be designed with ADA compliance as a given, similar to all public restrooms with a wheelchair stall.

What is ADA compliance?

First enacted in 1990 and amended/updated in 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act is aimed at preventing discrimination against people with mental or physical disabilities. The titles of the ADA that apply to schools are administered by the Department of Justice (DoJ). The DoJ provides informational, regulatory, and enforcement support for the ADA’s requirements.  For the AV industry, the critically important document is the 2010 “ADA Standards for Accessible Design.”  (The ADA sections cited in this Legrand eBook are drawn from that document.) Assembly halls, conference rooms, classrooms, learning spaces, and lecture halls all fall within the ADA’s compliance standards.

Seven commonly recognized components of ADA compliance

  • Policy: Create a policy for electronic and information technology (EIT) accessibility
  • Designate an accessibility coordinator: Appoint an accessibility coordinator
  • Purchasing: Include accessibility criteria in EIT purchases
  • Post your accessibility statement: Include a link to an accessibility statement and resources and provide a feedback mechanism
  • Conduct an audit: Complete a prioritized audit of EIT
  • Fix any issues: Remediate inaccessible EIT
  • Training: Provide role-based training for faculty, staff, and administrators

Next Steps: Capital Requests

  • Logging which ADA standard(s) each requested piece of AV equipment complies with will also form the basis of a searchable ADA compliance database.
  • Having ADA compliance information included in a capital request helps AV designers in assessing whether the overall AV system meets the needs of people with disabilities, in all aspects.
  • Thorough documentation of ADA-compliant AV equipment will be needed in budget meetings, requests for proposals, inquiries and ADA audits.

Five things to consider for lifecycle planning with ADA-compliant equipment

  1. Recording ADA compliance information upfront will streamline any ADA audits that may occur. The necessary data will be a few keystrokes away, saving you time in compiling this information after the fact.
  2. Have ADA compliancy information available during equipment upgrades and replacements, and ensure your purchases are earmarked to be ADA-compliant.
  3. Should new product categories become subject to ADA compliancy standards, a quick search of your database will indicate non-compliant equipment. This data will help you plan for future ADA-compliant purchases and ensure you meet any deadlines set by the Department of Justice.
  4. Document and log compliant equipment with a VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) process.  A VPAT is a vendor-generated statement that provides information on how a product or service conforms to the Section 508 Accessibility Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in a consistent fashion and format.
  5. A word to the wise: Be sure to check with your regional ADA Center to see which specific VPAT applies to your project.

ADA Requirements for AV

Many ADA requirements apply to the AV industry. The ADA’s requirements are meant to allow people with disabilities to access and use AV equipment in business and educational settings as easily as people without disabilities. ADA requirements apply whether or not a school receives federal funding. (Schools that receive federal funding also have to comply with another federal law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.)

For example, teachers in wheelchairs should have access to lecterns set at usable heights, and with sufficient surrounding space for them to maneuver into and out of.  Any AV controls and equipment associated with the lectern should be just as easy for them to access and use.

Fusion Fixed MountAs the term suggests, “ADA compliance” applies to the sum of the combined systems—not just its individual components—and the ways in which it is installed/operated complies with the ADA’s requirements. For example, under ADA rules that govern “Protruding Objects” (ADA Sections 204 and 307), a wall-mounted flat panel display cannot protrude more than four inches from that wall. There’s a good reason for this: An object protruding more than four inches could be a serious obstacle for wheelchair users and people with visual disabilities. While a two-inch-deep mount and 2.25-inch-deep display are ADA compliant on their own, when mounted together, they exceed the depth limit.

AVI-SPL is dedicated to making sure all students have an opportunity to learn, no matter if they are traditional, non-traditional or special needs.  AVI-SPL partners with nationally recognized names such as Chief, Da-Lite, Middle Atlantic, Sennheiser, Spectrum, and Vaddio, who all share our dedication to ADA compliance who provide excellent solutions for visual, auditory and mobility impairment.  Solutions include: wall mounts, swing mounts, height adjustable display mounts, electric height adjust carts, height-adjustable lecterns and desks, ultra low-profile credenzas, screens, speakers and microphones.  See the “Making AV Technology ADA Compliant” document for more information.

Register for our Sept. 4 webinar “The Intersection of AV Technology and the ADA: Challenges and Solutions” >

Mitsubishi Interactive Projectors Stand Out in the Classroom

In an article that looks at short-throw and interactive projectors for the classroom, AVNetwork included a pair of Mitsubishi projectors that support interactive and dual-pen functionality that enables two pens to be used at the same time on the same surface. Mitsubishi’s wide-screen format WD385U-EST and XGAresolution XD365U-EST 3D-ready projectors empower students and teachers to make annotations on almost any solid surface. A specially crafted lens in each can project a 70-inch (diagonal) image from less than 23 inches away.

AVI-SPL has relied on Mitsubishi projectors for its integrations in corporate and education environments. Talk to one of our experts about how interactive projectors can benefit your classroom: call us at 866-559-8197 or email We look forward to hearing from you.

Why Today’s Teenagers Are Wired Differently

By Dr. Jennifer Brown King, Florida Southern College:

In his article “Mission Possible: Teachers Can Inspire Today’s Screenagers,” Marc Heller, head of school at Academy at the Lakes in Tampa, Florida, brings to light what is becoming undeniably obvious: Our children are growing up in a world that is very different from the one in which we grew up.  Let’s face it.  Our playground consisted of monkey bars, swing sets, a squeaky merry-go-round, and the see-saw. Do these relics of the 20th century, which bring to mind nostalgic images of those golden hours of freedom after school, still exist for our children?  What is the playground of our children?  Anything with a screen (even a teeny tiny one), including portable gaming systems and home gaming consoles, hand-held tablets, and cell phones (seldom used for talking).  For this reason, Don Tapscott, author of Paradigm Shift (1993) and Growing Up Digital (2000) calls the children of today “screenagers” or “the first generation that has grown up with a computer mouse and the assumption that images on a screen are to be interacted with.” Hence, the term “screenagers.”

Our children may look like us, chips off the ol’ block, but researchers have proof that they are simply wired differently. The wiring difference, discovered through advances in brain research, is a result of the constant bombardment of visual stimuli. Writer Marc Prensky, who coined the terms “digital immigrants” (you and me) and “digital natives” (our children), believes that Millennials or the generation spanning from about 1982 to 2004 will have played more than 10,000 hours of video games, sent and received 200,000 emails and texts, spent 10,000 hours on cell phones, watched more than 20,000 hours of TV, and seen more than 500,000 commercials by the time they reach 21 years of age! I say this is nuts even as I shamefully confess, as a parent of screenagers, to announcing dinner time via text, then finally on FaceBook when no one comes scurrying downstairs to the table!

Heller references Ian Jukes, who indicates that a screenager’s consistent stimuli, like hours spent gaming, texting, and the like, have created new and high-speed pathways in their brain. Consequently, screenagers have learned to process information differently and faster than their parents — and yes, teachers — and excel in visual memory and processing. In fact, their brains are hard-wired to process visual images infinitely faster than text! For humans, in general, research has shown that the memory recall rates for 10 seconds of visual content are significantly higher (90% accuracy) after several days than when information is presented orally (10% accuracy). However, when pictures are added to a traditional oral presentation, memory recall rates skyrocket to 65%. 

What are the implications of this brain research for educational technology? Heller says that with the simple addition of supporting visuals and engaging graphical displays provided by interactive technologies, teachers could increase student retention by as much as 650%. When we consider the natural propensity of screenagers to recall visual content (versus oral content) along with the reality that screenagers and their teachers are wired differently, it’s clear that we are facing what Heller deems a “brave new world.”  Simply put, screenagers have different preferences for learning from their parents and teachers.

I agree with Heller.  Screenagers are visual, multimedia learners; however, their schools and classrooms are populated by teachers who are wired differently.  Here are four examples:

  • Screenagers prefer receiving information quickly from multiple multimedia sources. Many teachers prefer a slow and controlled release of information from limited sources.
  • Screenagers prefer processing pictures, sounds, color, and video before text. Many teachers prefer to provide text before pictures, sounds, and video.
  • Screenagers prefer random access to hyperlinked multimedia information. Many teachers prefer to provide information linearly, logically, and sequentially.
  • Screenagers prefer learning that is relevant, active, and instantly useful and fun. Many teachers prefer teaching memorization in preparation for standardized tests.

In the 20th century, teaching with a lot of visuals was very difficult and expensive until the advent of the digital age.  As such, teachers created a very auditory, text-based culture that still exists in many 21st century classrooms. Though wired differently, I encourage teachers to embrace this brave new world of visual learning imbued with rich, graphical, multimedia content.  It is a world to which screenagers can relate!

Editor’s Note

If you are an educator interested in learning how to use video-based technology in your classroom, visit AVI-SPL’s Professional Development Resources and Training for Teachers.

Distributing Sound and Video for FIU’s School of International and Public Affairs

A successful integration is more than the sum of its high-profile equipment and solutions – those displays and video conferencing equipment that provide the “wow factor.”  Florida International University’s new home for its School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) required the latest audiovisual presentation solutions for areas including a 300-plus seat auditorium, two distance-learning interactive classrooms, multimedia classrooms, and two conference rooms with high-definition video conferencing capabilities. And while there’s plenty of “wow” to be seen, AVI-SPL delivered the signals and sounds by implementing solutions by TV One, Tannoy, Liberty AV and Extron. 

Tannoy speakers deliver clear, strong audio to attendees in the conference and boardrooms, and Liberty AV wall and floor plates are essential to making connections in the auditorium, classrooms and boardroom.

All of the video signal distribution and amplification is handled by Extron solutions while signal scaling and up, down and cross conversion is trusted to TV One equipment. Discover additional solutions that AVI-SPL used when you read the project profile of AVI-SPL’s integration for FIU SIPA.