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white noise - or noise cancellation headphones allowed or not at tournaments?

#1 User is offline   phoenixmj 

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Posted 2017-November-06, 15:43

I have a bit of tinnitus and white noise earphones are helpful for me. There is one venue in particular, where the acoustics in the room are quite bad and there is a bit of an echo when people talk a lot. I played one tournament there and left with a bit of a headache from all of the noise and the event was just not fun for me. The noise was very distracting and people seemed to be talking a lot after hands and sometimes about hands. We did OK as far as the bridge scores - so this is not just sour grapes. But I would not go back to that room to play in the future. It is unfortunate because many tournaments are scheduled at that venue. Other people had similar complaints - but I don't expect anything to be done and don't know if anything could be done. Seems to me that I could wear headphones with white noise - NOT INTENDING TO RECEIVE ANY BRIDGE INFORMATION ON THE HEADSET - and then playing at that venue would be a lot more fun. I see the ACBL rules state that electronic equipment (including headphones) is not allowed - but expect that it is because they could be used to cheat. Is there any exception for a headset that would be connected only to a white noise generator? Curious if anyone else has this issue at any venue where they play and if accommodation can be made. I tried earplugs and they only made things worse.
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#2 User is offline   The_Badger 

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Posted 2017-November-06, 16:06

Being disabled myself (arthritis), I wonder how I would react if the English Bridge Union insisted that I have to move every two boards in a pairs tournament, instead of being given a stationary seat? (Though I can't play in tournaments anymore, sadly) I might challenge them that they are not accommodating or being receptive to my disability and accuse them of disability discrimination. Isn't your situation similar, except that your disability is different?

Obviously, I am not familiar with American tournaments, but surely given the age profile of bridge players there will be plenty of players who use hearing aids. And some of them are very sophisticated. And aren't these electronic equipment, too?

I would contact the ACBL especially if you have a clinician's letter detailing your tinnitus and explaining that white noise has been clinically proved to help. Say that you would be willing to show your white noise equipment to tournament officials every time you play, and whether they will make an exception in your case.

If they don't I would find an attorney who would take your case on a no win/no fee basis as there are discriminating against you. Even if you are unsuccessful, the outcome would be interesting.
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#3 User is offline   phoenixmj 

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Posted 2017-November-06, 18:58

I have not requested accommodation. I was just wondering if anyone has addressed this problem already. The rules excluding headphones are clearly aimed at transmitting bridge info - so if I used device that is unable to do that I would think it would be OK to use. My iphone - which does play white noise - would also be capable of transmission so I am sure it is out of the question. The problem just came up for me and I may choose to just avoid the venue that seems to irritate my issue. Other tournaments have been ok for noise for me.
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#4 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2017-November-07, 05:50

View Postphoenixmj, on 2017-November-06, 15:43, said:

Seems to me that I could wear headphones with white noise - NOT INTENDING TO RECEIVE ANY BRIDGE INFORMATION ON THE HEADSET - and then playing at that venue would be a lot more fun. I see the ACBL rules state that electronic equipment (including headphones) is not allowed - but expect that it is because they could be used to cheat. Is there any exception for a headset that would be connected only to a white noise generator?


How do you prove that your headsets can't be used to transmit information?

FWIW, there are going to be some interesitng discussions around blue tooth enabled hearing aides, most of which CAN be used to pick up the internet equivalent of radio and the like.
Alderaan delenda est
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#5 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-November-07, 09:02

ACBL regulations on electronic devices make a specific exception for anything medically necessary.

Players who go to NABCs frequently probably know that there's a woman with extremely severe tinnitus -- even ordinary conversation levels cause her extreme pain. She wears enormous noise-cancelling headphones, but still has to request that players not even tap the alert strip, and she yelps whenever someone calls for the director.

I've never heard of anyone giving her a hard time for wearing those things.

Regarding hearing aids, I wouldn't be surprised if at least 30% of the membership uses them, considering our median age. Trying to police all of them for illicit communication devices would be a logistical nightmare.

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