In the past year or two, there has been a surge of interest in making entertainment venues more accessible to people with hearing loss. Around the country, theaters, meeting places, concert halls, and movie houses have been installing systems that enable people who wear hearing aids to enjoy plays, musical performance, lectures, and movies more than they ever could before.
There are various technologies that can be employed to make theaters and halls accessible to hard-of-hearing consumers, and all of them have their proponents.. This week, Margaret Newton, the Business Manager for the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, IL, discusses her extremely positive experience with a hearing loop installation at her facility, which presents live theater for adults and children.
Hearing Views welcomes comments on her post and new posts by people with perspectives and experiences on how best to share cultural events involving speech or music with people who have hearing loss.
By Margaret Newton
I want to share with your readers our experience with a hearing loop installation at the Marriott Theatre.
Dr. Linda Remensnyder, an audiologist in our area, came to us about two years ago regarding installing a loop system. She has many patients who are or have been subscribers to our theater.
Formerly, we used an infrared system. While it was satisfactory for some patrons, it left many others in a position where they couldn’t understand the dialogue. And, although the system raised the volume, the sound quality was poor. As a result, we lost many of our hearing-impaired patrons who had been with us a long time.
I cannot begin to tell you the amazing difference the looping system has made. I never realized how many patrons we have with a telecoil already in their hearing devices, and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that at every performance we get big “Thank Yous.” We have subscribers who are returning and telling their friends.
My favorite moment was when a young man in a wheelchair who has several medical issues stopped Bernie, one of our actors, to tell him that this was the first time he was able to really hear a show, as he has only 5% hearing. He comes all the time with his family and Bernie was actually moved to tears when the young man shared this with him.
The new devices are very easy and comfortable, as well as sanitary since the headphones aren’t placed inside the ear.
I encourage those of you who own or manage theaters or other public facilities or who advocate for hard-of-hearing people in your community to do whatever you can to get hearing loops installed in these facilities. Having the Marriott Theatre looped was truly one of the best investments we’ve made. More importantly, what we’ve given to our patrons is priceless.