When considering Bluetooth and WiFi solutions, it is important to note they require the user to bring their own device (in this case a smartphone) to participate in the event, which may be a violation of the ADA.
Wireless audio technologies, such as Bluetooth and WiFi, are evolving but need time to mature. We have yet to uncover current research or expert opinion as to the efficacy of their application as an ALS.
Bluetooth is a relatively short-range wireless technology frequently used to connect cell phones, televisions, computers, tablets, and recently, hearing aids and cochlear implants. Bluetooth is controlled by a person’s smartphone and operates in a one-to-one/personal environment and is sometimes designed for a specific brand and/or model of hearing device. Of its current limitations, the most significant is the intermittent signal and significant battery drain on both the individual’s hearing device and smartphone. While this technology is evolving, it is still generally not suited for long-range transmission in a large venue like an auditorium, classroom, or theater.
After initial review by UVA ITS Security, WiFi is a technology that currently is not appropriate within our IT network architecture for a variety of reasons including:
- Privacy concerns related to individuals unknowingly having their audio data transmitted through this service
- Potential physical security consequences to UVA community if an individual is using the audio feed with malicious intent (e.g., determine where certain people are, where many people are, where few people are, etc.)
- Information security concerns related to the device implemented on a UVA network that is deliberately made available to the public but still connected to resources behind our firewall
In addition, there is significant administrative overhead to configure and maintain the system assumed by each department that chooses this type of solution. As mentioned earlier, these solutions require the user to bring their own device to participate in the event which may be a violation of the ADA.