Established in 1960, the Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom (FVJC) is a community of about 250+ families in Simsbury, Connecticut. FVJC is a warm, inclusive, intergenerational community that comes together for worship services, Jewish learning, social events, and social action initiatives designed to foster a sense of community and connection.
The Hearing Challenge
During the Covid-19 global pandemic in 2020, the Temple began streaming worship services when the FVJC was closed to members. Consequently, the Temple’s audio system was optimized for streaming services. In 2021, as part of reopening the Temple for in-person worship services, it was recognized that the audio system needed to be expanded. The audio settings for streaming were very different from those needed for in-person worship services in the sanctuary.
The sanctuary audio settings were balanced for the grand piano and the sanctuary’s acoustics. The audio settings for the sanctuary were somewhat overpowering for the streaming audio. Adding a four-port audio output card allowed independent audio tuning for streaming and the sanctuary. Additionally, the expansion of the audio system also provided an output for an assistive listening system which would benefit those with hearing loss and others in the FVJC community.
The Wi-Fi Assistive Listening Solution
The Temple’s IT volunteer, Mark Orenstein, also upgraded the audio systems in three town meeting/program rooms – two large program rooms in the Simsbury Library and the Eno Memorial Hall auditorium. The Listen EVERYWHERE servers are a twenty-first-century solution for assistive listening.
Consequently, the FVJC installed a Listen EVERYWHERE transmitter in its sanctuary, so seniors with hearing aids that support smartphone Bluetooth audio could better participate in services. The system also benefits those without hearing aids, as congregants can download the app and access the audio as needed.
The Results of the New Wi-Fi Assistive Listening System
As a hearing aid user, Mark Orenstein is an assistive listening technology advocate. He knows firsthand the difference assistive listening systems make for those with hearing loss. Mark is also familiar with the inconvenience of borrowing devices – from asking to borrow a device to having to return the device. Which is why he advocated for the use of Listen EVERYWHERE. FVJC members install the free Listen EVERYWHERE app on their smartphone, access the FVJC Wi-Fi network, and can access the audio from the service using their familiar phones as the assistive listening receiver. Those with Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids or cochlear implants can access the audio directly from their phones.
“The new Listen EVERYWHERE assistive listening system was easy to install and has helped many FVJC members fully experience worship services and feel more included in their community. We love the solution and continue to promote its use. We want everyone to know they can access the audio and feel included and welcome in FVJC worship services.” Mark Orenstein