Technology Spotlight: What You Need to Know About Assistive Listening Options

 

Performing arts centers around the world—like the brand-new Hale Centre Theatre in Utah—turn to induction loop technology for assistive listening systems. But that’s probably not the right fit for a courtroom. And what works in a classroom might not work in a movie theater.

 

Technology for assistive listening isn’t one-type-fits-all. So, you need to consider all types of technology to find the right fit. There’s infrared, radio frequency, hearing loops, and Wi-Fi, along with their associated products. Here’s what you need to know about all of them:

Infrared

In this type of system, infrared light waves—like the technology in many TV remotes—transmit sound to an IR receiver and headphones. The system floods a room with infrared light using IR radiators. Users don’t need hearing aids. They get sound via a receiver and headphones or earpiece. So, it’s an excellent solution for classrooms, courtrooms, and corporate boardrooms. And it’s ideal for anywhere a private audio signal is necessary. That’s because the signal can’t pass through walls or be received outside a specific area. This system is relatively low-cost and can deliver multiple audio sources. One of the drawbacks of IR, though, is that it is traditionally dependent on line of sight in order to receive the light signal.

 

Listen Technologies offers ListenIR, which delivers higher-quality audio, with twice the power and coverage of other receivers. Listen’s receivers are IR transparent, allowing them to receive light waves from all angles, greatly reducing signal drop out. The system, which can have six simultaneous channels, is streamlined for better management with simple and smarter maintenance solutions. The receivers are easier to store, wear, and use because they’re half the size and weight of other listening devices. Our innovative battery technology saves money as well as the hassle of battery management and disposal. Plus, the integrated neck loop/lanyard delivers better audio to users with cochlear implants and telecoil hearing aids. If you’re looking for a private, lower cost, easy-to-use assistive listening solution, check into the ListenIR system.

Radio frequency

If you’ve listened to a radio or used a walkie-talkie, then you’re familiar with radio frequency. In an assistive listening system, sound is transmitted via radio frequency to a receiver and headphones. It also may deliver the sound directly to a receiver connected to a cochlear implant or telecoil hearing aid. Like the IR system, users don’t need hearing aids. This system can be used in small or large spaces, but it isn’t ideal in situations where privacy is necessary because the signal isn’t contained like an IR system. People often use this low-cost system in classrooms, public meeting spaces, churches, conference rooms, and nursing homes.

 

If you’re looking for a superior RF assistive listening product, Listen Technologies offers two options, with a maximum of 32 simultaneous channels. The 72 MHz system has a range of up to 1,000 feet, and is ideal for churches, performing arts centers, theaters, and more. We also have a 216 MHz system, with high-quality transmitters and receivers. The 216 MHz system is ideal for places where a larger RF signal is necessary, like at convention centers and stadiums. An RF system is perfect for everywhere from classrooms to concert halls. With an RF system from Listen Technologies, you’ll have a low-cost and high-quality assistive listening product.

Hearing loop

Many users consider the hearing loop the best option for assistive listening systems. Using an electromagnetic field, it sends sound to people with telecoil technology in their hearing aid or cochlear implant. When a person with a T-coil hearing aid or cochlear implant walks into a venue with a hearing loop, they set their T switch to on and instantly have audio streaming directly to their ears. Optionally, a hearing loop can also send the signal to a receiver connected to headphones or an earpiece, so people without hearing aids can use them. The drawback of this system is that it requires installation, so they’re usually more costly than IR and RF systems. That’s because a hearing loop requires the venue operator to install wire or flat copper tape loop on the floor of the entire venue. Also, like an RF signal, this system is not secure.

 

Listen Technology’s ListenLOOP is the leader in hearing loop technology. We help people with hearing loss have a superior listening experience without distracting background noise that can lessen hearing clarity. One of our latest installations was at the Hale Centre Theatre in Utah.

 

“The hearing loop is giving so many of our patrons an experience they have never before had,” said Quinn Dietlein, Hale Centre Theatre’s development director and annual giving manager.

 

A hearing loop is the most convenient assistive listening system for users. It delivers high-quality audio, and even people without hearing aids can use it.

Wi-Fi

The latest in assistive listening technology is Wi-Fi. It’s precisely the same system as you use for your phone, laptop and tablets at home and just about everywhere else. A Wi-Fi system uses radio waves to send information across a network. With a Wi-Fi signal, any smartphone or tablet can turn into an assistive listening product.

 

Listen Technologies always is looking for the best and latest tech for assistive listening. Now with Audio Everywhere from Listen Technologies, end users get best-in-class assistive listening and best-in-class Wi-Fi audio streaming. Users just need to connect to the Wi-Fi network, download the free app for iOS or Android devices and select a channel. Then the system will connect directly to Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids through the Wi-Fi-enabled device. It’s great for everywhere from churches to bars, universities to corporate centers.

 

Seventy-seven percent of Americans own a smartphone, and about 50 percent own a tablet computer, so it makes sense to turn to Wi-Fi for the latest in assistive listening technology.

With several types of assistive listening technologies, there is a right fit for everyone, everywhere. So, when you’re deciding on a system, consider the venue and whether IR, RF, loop, or Wi-Fi is best for the situation.

 

Legislation Around the Nation

So far 2017 has been a busy year for legislators and advocates who have diligently worked together to ensure equal access for the deaf and hard of hearing. For many, all that hard work culminated in March with the passing of legislation.

On March 17, 2017 Governor Herbert signed HB 60 into law. With this signing, the state of Utah has made history as the first state in the nation to replace the term “hearing impaired” with “deaf and hard of hearing” throughout all Utah code. This change shows that Utah acknowledges it’s DHoH community not as something in need of a fix, but rather a rich, diverse, and proud culture. This small change speaks volumes and is paving the way for many other states to follow suit.  At last count, four more states have put forth bills to strike the term “hearing impaired” from their codes and laws as well.  We may be a bit biased, but Listen Technologies has never been more proud to be headquartered in the great state of Utah!

In other good news, New York City has taken a giant leap towards accessibility and civic engagement with the passing of Intro-882-A.  Sponsored by Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Intro 882-A requires a hearing loop be installed in any city-funded building project with one or more public assembly areas. This legislation applies to all renovations or new construction with a cost of $950,000 or more.  With projects under current capital planning, this will include close to 300 venues across New York City!

“With this bill, the City of New York will ensure that more and more spaces every year will be truly accessible to those hard of hearing. Hearing loop technology makes such a radical difference in the ability of so many to participate fully in public life, and I’m proud that as a City we have moved to make it not just a priority but a requirement in our public investments. I want to thank the advocates whose hard work made this possible, educating me and other policymakers on the importance of this issue and helping us reach a path toward getting this landmark legislation passed,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

Other aspects of this bill were thoughtfully included to encourage the use and success of the newly installed hearing loops. Directional signage will be required in all public areas with loop technology installed.  Additionally, Intro 882-A requires that information, security, and reception areas in all newly looped venues be made accessible via micro-loops. By July 2018, the office of the New York City Mayor will be required to maintain an on-line list of city managed facilities with hearing loops, including those slated to receive them going forward.

New York City is the first major city in the United States to enact legislation of this kind.  In doing so, they demonstrated that they value the input of their deaf and hard of hearing community members and are actively working toward inclusivity. Way to go New York City!

Assistive Listening Technologies and Wi-Fi – How They Work Together

For the more than 360 million people worldwide who suffer moderate to profound hearing loss, venues must create a listening experience that is equal to that available to the general public. It’s not only the right way to accommodate hearing-impaired parishioners, patrons, and customers—it’s the law.

 

Today we’re seeing public demand for listening solutions that extend beyond the traditional assistive listening market. Wi-Fi-based personal listening solutions, while delivering excellent sound quality, are designed for the convenience of the venue—owners and managers no longer need to purchase and maintain devices. Instead, users download an iPhone or Android app to their smartphone and then select the audio channel that corresponds with the video they want to watch in a multi-display setting.

 

While these types of solutions can be used by the general public as well as the hearing impaired, it’s important to note that they were not designed to meet the ADA standards for assistive listening or comparable laws outside of the U.S., which require venues to provide an equivalent listening experience for the hearing impaired. While the audio latency associated with Wi-Fi technology is negligible, it cannot provide an equal experience for people with hearing loss. This limitation combined with the requirement to provide a specific number of assistive listening devices means that Wi-Fi is not an ideal solution for compliance. That said, there are applications where Wi-Fi-based solutions can complement an existing assistive listening system (ALS) that uses RF, IR, or induction loop technologies, giving all patrons or customers the best possible listening experience.

 

How does that work? Let’s take a quick look at the best applications for Wi-Fi based solutions and then discuss when they make a great addition to your assistive listening solution.

 

Applications for Wi-Fi Based Solutions for Personal Listening

Wi-Fi for personal listening is an exciting, emerging area that has a growing list of applications and the potential for many more. We are seeing ListenWiFi being adopted in venues for:

  • Higher education, particularly in student unions, where multiple televisions are available and the student wants to select the audio channel for listening.
  • Corporate fitness centers or lobbies with video walls. Employees or visitors choose the audio channel for the video they want to watch.
  • Museums with multiple video displays throughout the exhibit. Visitors can select the audio channel that corresponds with the video that piques their interest.

 

The Right Listening Options for Any Audience

When you need to provide both hearing and hearing impaired audiences with audio options, adding a Wi-Fi personal listening solution to a venue with an existing ALS can be a cost-effective approach.

 

For example, a theater may offer a movie in multiple languages. As a theater, the venue is required to provide an assistive listening device to any hearing-impaired person. The ALS device provides equal access to the movie audio, but what about translations for the general public? Purchasing transmitters and receivers for the full audience that doesn’t need a device for assistive listening is quite an investment. But adding a Wi-Fi-based solution gives the ability to access different audio channels to anyone with an iPhone or Android device. This cost-effective strategy allows the venue to remain fully compliant and provides options that create exceptional—and equal—experiences for all moviegoers.

 

To learn more about ALS and Wi-Fi solutions and to determine which is appropriate for your venue, please contact us at [email protected] or by phone at +1.801.233.8992 or 1.800.330.0891 (toll-free in USA & Canada).

InfoComm 2016: And the Winner IS…

Drumroll Please…. Listen Technologies!

 

We have had an exciting week at InfoComm 2016.  Listen Technologies is proud to have received not one, but TWO awards at this year’s show.

The first comes from our valued partner in distributing, Herman Pro AV who honored us with their “Vendor of the Year” award.  Looking forward to many more great things to come with Herman Pro AV!

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Listen’s Maile Keone, Chief Revenue Officer and Peter Papageorge, Vice President of Sales and Marketing accept the “Vendor of the Year ” award from Herman Pro AV.

 

ListenTechnologies is also thrilled to be voted rAVe Publications Reader’s Choice for “Favorite Assistive Listening Product”. Nominated and voted upon by the AV community itself, the rAVe Reader’s Choice Awards are the voice of the people in the know-and they LOVE Listen Technologies!

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Tracy Bathhurst, Listen’s Chief Technology Officer accepts the rAVe Reader’s Choice award for “Favorite Assistive Listening Device”.

 

InfoComm 2016: Who’s getting excited? We are!!!

InfoComm 2016 is almost upon us and we are EXCITED! Listen Technologies Booth #C10519 is brand new this year and it is shaping up to be awesome! It takes a village to put together a show like InfoComm and our Listen village has been rocking it this year.

Cory Paxman, Ryan Paxman, Ryne Carrillo, and Riley Hendrickson-working hard to get us on our way!   Cory Paxman, Ryan Paxman, Ryne Carrillo, and Riley Hendrickson-Working hard to get us on our way.

From dreaming to planning, packing to set up……we are almost there and we CAN’T WAIT!  See you soon!

 

 

Be an Advocate for Yourself and Others

Even though many countries have laws in place for mandatory assistive listening compliance, public awareness of these laws is inadequate. Many venues throughout the world still lack adequate systems to help the many people who have hearing loss. Here are some things you can do to build awareness and be an advocate.

So, how can you help?

  • There are many groups leading the charge to increased awareness, but they need your help. The Hearing Loss Association of America has a chapter in virtually every state and some states have several chapters. Find one in your area and get involved. They have incredible people and resources available to you. There are worldwide organizations, as well.
  • If you go to a venue where a public address (PA) system is being used, ask the facilities manager for an assistive listening device. If they don’t have one, make note of the facility’s address and fill out a complaint form. It’s only one page and only takes a minute. Here’s what can happen when people speak up.
  • Take some time to study your rights under the ADA. Knowledge is power, and being armed with information on your rights goes a long way, even if you only use it in casual conversation. It increases awareness; if people aren’t aware of a problem it can’t be fixed.

In closing, the biggest difference you can make is to speak up, don’t sit in silence, because you don’t have to. Be an advocate for yourself or for others who have hearing loss.

Blog from the Booth: IR that Sounds Like RF at InfoComm 2015

If you think you know IR, think again. ListenIR sounds more like RF. Case in point: a Consultant just stopped by booth #959 for a chat with Cory Schaeffer and Peter Papageorge. As one who is devoted to RF products, this Consultant was a bit doubtful of our claims, but we switched on the LT-84 Transmitter/Radiator, had him take a little walkabout with one of our iDSP IR receivers, and then showed him the iDSP software suite and he was convinced. ListenIR offers an unparalleled IR experience. 

Stay tuned for more updates from InfoComm 2015!

Blog from the Booth: The Hottest Spot at InfoComm 2015!

It looks like booth #959 is the hottest spot for Wi-Fi at InfoComm this year. ListenWiFi was heating up the Listen Technologies booth all day, with overheard comments like, “If it’s from Russ Gentner, I know it’s a quality product.” ListenWiFi is a professional, industrial grade product designed and manufactured by Listen Technologies, so that guy definitely knows what he’s talking about.

 

Also on deck: a tour of the Amway Center using Listen Technologies tour group equipment. When asked if the Listen Technologies tour group equipment provided a great audio experience, many tour attendees reported that it was fantastic.

Stay tuned for more updates from booth #959 at InfoComm 2015!

Blog from the Booth: Live from InfoComm 2015!

Wednesday kicked off the first day of InfoComm 2015 and Listen Technologies is kicking it at booth #959 in innovative style. This year, the booth is featuring new ListenIR, ListenWiFi, Loopworks, and many other amazing assistive listening and conference products.

 

 

ListenWiFi is generating a ton of interest from various markets. In other words, booth #959 is the hottest spot for Wi-Fi products at InfoComm. Stop by to check them out!

 

ListenIR literally had pigs flying. Why? Because Listen Technologies, CEO, Russ Gentner said that if we could create IR that sounded more like RF, pigs would fly.

Stay tuned for more updates from Booth #959 and Listen Technologies, live at InfoComm 2015.

What happens in Orlando, won’t stay in Orlando!

Since starting my career, I’ve been given many incredible opportunities and I often feel like the luckiest woman on the planet.  I have had the privilege of building a great company with great partners and a superior suite of product solutions that makes a difference for many with hearing loss. I have been part of a talented team within Listen Technologies, a company that truly has passion for what we do every day in a fun and vibrant industry.

I have enjoyed my time at Listen Technologies greatly. I have worked with the best representatives in the industry, including a supportive dealer channel and a group of talented consultants, all of whom, gave me, as well as others within Listen, the opportunity to build a successful business.   I’ve learned from my partners, Russell Gentner, Keldon Paxman and Kelli Lundgren that you can be partners and friends, because we’ve been just that for nearly thirty years. I’ve made new friends with the talent housed within the walls of Listen Technologies and I continue to be enriched by my relationships.

Now, I have more opportunities ahead of me. At this year’s InfoComm, I’ll be working the Listen Technologies booth and I won’t be saying “goodbye” rather, I’ll be saying “see you later.”   I have decided to change roles and I will be transitioning out of Listen Technologies day-to-day, however not my ownership and board of Directors position, as I join the team at AMX on July 6th.  My support of Listen Technologies will never leave me.  I’m just ready for my next chapter.

Listen Technologies is growing and our new iDSP systems are something you’ll want to see and hear during your time in Orlando. Come by and let me get these on your ears!  See you there!

 

Listen Technologies
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