In the last few months, COVID-19 has spread around the world, infecting hundreds of thousands of people. Now, more than ever, people are looking for comfort in faith and the support of religion, unfortunately, gathering in large groups is discouraged. How can we stay connected to our congregation during a worldwide pandemic? Some houses of worship are trying to stay connected via social media or host services that are live-streamed and facilitating video chats, but the feeling of community is lost.Read more
Instead of asking parishioners to turn off their cell phones during worship service, what if they could use them to hear your sermon clearly, no matter where they are in the building, or how well they hear? Venues everywhere are embracing the omnipresent smartphone as an assistive-listening solution and using the devices to get churchgoers more involved in the service.
But how does that work? It’s simple: Wi-Fi. Streaming audio over Wi-Fi isn’t a new technology. However, recent advances improved the technology and reduced latency, so there’s basically no audio delay. That’s made streaming audio over Wi-Fi to smartphones the perfect solution for assistive listening as well as live audio. Here’s why you need it and how it works:
Delivering sound over Wi-Fi to devices parishioners already carry is a simple way to re-engage churchgoers who’ve felt disconnected because they can’t hear or understand.
Maybe you’ve got parishioners who spend parts of the service in the cry room or lobby with their children. Or maybe members of your congregation have hearing loss—statistics show that’s likely as high as 20 percent of your congregants. Perhaps your worship service is a popular place, and audio for overflow seating is an issue. Or do you have parishioners who need translation, but have no way to broadcast it? That means you’ve got people who can’t engage and won’t feel connected to the service. You can help them feel that essential spiritual connection through the power of Wi-Fi with audio delivered straight to their smartphones.
Audio over Wi-Fi is not only easy for you to install and simple to use, but it’s also affordable. With a small investment—less than $800—churches can deliver clear audio to parishioners in the building with Audio Everywhere from Listen Technologies. All you need to do is connect your audio system—like a TV or microphone—to the local area network using a secure server. It may sound complicated, but it’s as easy as plug and play. Then parishioners connect to your Wi-Fi, download a free app to their smartphones, and start streaming audio. They can listen via their own headphones or earbuds. Or if they have Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, they can stream straight to their ears. And it’s scalable, so that you can accommodate small groups or thousands of users.
Churches can use this as an addition to existing assistive-listening solutions, like radio-frequency systems and hearing loops. Or it can be a standalone assistive-listening solution. Congregants use their own smartphones and headphones, so there’s no equipment for you to buy, store, or maintain.
An audio-over-Wi-Fi system is affordable and easy to install, but invaluable for your members who struggle to hear.
Spread the Word
Once you’ve installed Audio Everywhere, it’s essential to help your parishioners know about the system.
● Publicize: Use your regular news bulletins and website to promote your new listening solution. Also, post signs and posters about the system.
● Teach: Train your staff and volunteers how to use the system and troubleshoot. That way they’ll be ready to show parishioners what to do and answer questions.
● Celebrate: Share the success of Audio Everywhere with online reviews and word of mouth. Laud your increased engagement and attendance at church services.
Streaming audio over Wi-Fi to smartphones is an ideal solution for assistive listening. So, embrace the power of the smartphone and help your parishioners connect with their worship community with Audio Everywhere from Listen Technologies. Go to www.audioeverywhere.com/assistive-church/ to get started today!
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).
When setting up an assistive listening system in your venue it is important to remember that speech is paramount. However, in many religious contexts and performing art venues, music will accompany the spoken word and is generally mixed through the sound system at a higher volume than the spoken word. In order to account for this, when setting up the assistive listening system, it is best to take a feed from the main (L/R or Mono) output of the console and run that signal through a compressor before sending it to the assistive listening transmitter.
As Production Director at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, with a weekly attendance of 2,500 congregants and 50+ assistive listening users, I use a mono matrix output fed from the left and right main outputs on our Soundcraft Vi1 digital console. I also use the onboard compressor to compensate for the decibel fluctuation between music and the spoken word before sending the signal to the assistive listening transmitter. If you are using a console that doesn’t have matrix outputs, you can also use a mono or record output. Or, as a last resort, you can use a post-fader auxiliary output with all of the individual channel’s “aux” sends set to nominal. The compressor is key!
If you aren’t running a digital audio console, consider the purchase of a compressor as part of the overall assistive listening purchase. When setting the compressor, I start with a 5:1 ratio before adjusting the threshold just under the average spoken word. Then set the input volume on the assistive listening transmitter. Further compressor adjustments may be needed, but this is a good starting point.
Your final step is to take an assistive listening receiver with headphones and listen to the end result during a live production or service. At this point make your final compressor adjustments and set the “contour” on your ALS transmitter to optimize speech intelligibility. Input from those who have hearing loss and use of the system is important. Consider asking several users of the assistive listening system how it sounds to them, then make adjustments as reoccurring complaints/suggestions occur.
At Park Cities Baptist Church, we use a separate assistive listening transmitter as a translation system for our Spanish speaking members. Setup of the system for this situation is simple. Plug any microphone into the XLR or 1/4” input in the back of the Listen Technologies transmitter. Speak into the microphone at a normal level while setting the input volume on the LT-800 transmitter. A compressor is not necessary for this situation since the assistive listening system will only be handling the spoken word from a single person.
One last consideration for the venue. Promote the fact that the assistive listening system is available and how to pick up a receiver. Promotion can be done via the website, programs, and newsletters as well as in-venue digital signage.
The Ely Cathedral is steeped in history. Originally, the site of a monastery founded by a runaway princess turned nun, the cathedral grew from a rather humble site to an awe-inspiring site that covers over 46,000 square feet, including the famous Ely octagon measuring at 170 feet in height and 742 feet in width.
Although the cathedral has had its fair share of pilgrims, it’s highly unlikely that its original purpose was to host bus-loads of tour groups snapping photos of its famous stained glass and restored stonework. Nevertheless, around 250,000 contemporary pilgrimages are made to the Ely Cathedral every year, which makes for some very busy (and possibly hoarse) tour guides.
Cathedrals, while being wonderful places to worship have rather specific challenges when it comes to the subject of acoustics. While some of them offer wonderful places to sit and listen to choral arrangements or reflect on the soul, they aren’t really built to be tour group or tour guide friendly: a small footstep can carry from one end of a nave to the other, mere whispers can echo, and the smallest giggle can be carried from the floor all the way up to heaven. So, how is a tour guide supposed to relay information, without shouting or whispering? And how is a tour group supposed to hear their guide without being shouted at or straining to hear?
Instead of spending pounds of sterling on honey and tea to sooth the sore throats of their busy guides, the Ely Cathedral thought of a better idea to solve their tour acoustics situation, they invested in Tour Group equipment from Listen Technologies. Listen’s Portable RF products allow a tour group user to simply plug into a small receiver that they carry with them throughout a tour, in this case the tour of the magnificent Ely Cathedral. A tour group member can adjust his or her own volume and will receive clear and consistent sound from the guide for the duration, so they don’t have to miss a single word of what’s said, even while other tours are happening simultaneously. The products are also a miracle for the tour guides as they allow them the opportunity to use a normal speaking voice, which is broadcast from a transmitter to each and every tour guest, so there’s no need for tea, unless it’s actually tea time.
Although it’s a place with a past, the Ely Cathedral is definitely looking at the present. Including a little technology from Listen to improve guided tours has made the cathedral a better place to visit, whether a guest is there on a personal pilgrimage or merely there to enjoy the beautiful stained glass.
I recently attended a Women Tech Council event where attendees were able to tour the beautiful new Adobe building in Lehi, UT. We supported the event with a loaner equipment sponsorship of our portable RF equipment to ensure that not a single sound was missed.
Each tour member was given a receiver and an LA-164 ear speaker. The great thing about an ear speaker as opposed to traditional headphones is you can easily sanitize between uses. Additionally, it is only over one ear, allowing you to hear the audio while also being aware of your surroundings. The first time you put an ear speaker on it can be a little tricky, but once you see the proper position it’s easy!
This video shows just how easy it is to use and sanitize:
This blog post has been re-purposed from a “Listen User Profile” of actual Listen customers detailing their experience with Listen Solutions.
When Pastor Mark Ailanjian at the New Heights Church in Vancouver, Washington needs to be outside the main sanctuary during Sunday services, he has a simple solution to monitor the proceedings.
He dons a Listen Technologies Corporation wireless receiver and headset, and goes about his business on the 17-acre church campus. He might be in another building when he hears that the offering has begun. Then he heads back to the sanctuary for the presentation of the gifts.
“That’s not always at just the same point in the service,” Ailanjian said. “I wear the system so I can know when the next step is happening.” He’s not the only one. The senior pastor at the 5,000- member congregation has to be in and out of the service as well, there for the opening prayer, and maybe off to the Welcoming Center for part of the service, always returning in time for the sermon.
The New Heights Church purchased the wireless assistive listening system more than three years ago as a means to help the elderly and others with hearing disabilities hear the services clearly.
The Listen system transmitter takes sound from the main microphones and routs it over wireless FM radio waves directly to the small battery-powered receivers worn by listeners. The receivers send the sound through the headset or ear bud to the parishioners’ ears, allowing those with hearing impairments to enjoy the full spectrum of sound without the garbling effects of interference.
Since New Heights purchased its system, at least several of the 16 units are used at every one of the eight services offered every weekend. In addition, New Heights takes the system with them for off-campus events. Coordinating a church picnic or calling the group together at a community bowling or paint-balling event becomes much easier with Listen.
“We even use it as a paging system,” he said. “We ask someone to pick up a lost child, or escort someone to the first aid station.”
But more often than not, it’s the young mothers who use the Listen system at New Heights Church.
“It’s mostly nursing moms who need to step out of the service but who want to hear what’s going on,” Ailanjian said. “Sometimes they have crying babies and don’t want to disturb other people. Or sometimes they listen to the service while their toddlers play on the playground.”
Ailanjian said he’s been pleased not only with the quality auditory assistance systems but also with the many other uses.“It’s been a trouble-free system,” he said. “I’m very pleased with how they’ve served us.”
The LDS Church has a history of embracing technology to communicate its message to the community with its first radio broadcast in 1922 and first video satellite broadcast in 1972. Presently, in addition to its semi-annual General Conference and many independent productions, the church produces and broadcasts “Music and The Spoken Word” live to BYU TV and KSL TV every Sunday morning and later distributed to more than 2200 TV and radio stations. If you’ve ever seen a broadcast, you know that in addition to the beautiful words and music, it is visually inspiring.
During our tour of the LDS Conference Center which was part of our AV Week (a week set aside for the audiovisual community to celebrate, promote and share the impacts of the AV industry across the world) activities, we were able to get a firsthand look at the video production process.
Guy and Jeff testing out the robotic cameras
While I’ve talked a lot about the audio installations (after all we are all about audio here at Listen), but the video installation is second to none in producing feature films and educational videos. Using Sony digital HD technology, there are more than 120 fiber drops throughout the campus. Several control rooms handle all the steps of production. The video capture control room could easily be confused with a teenagers gaming room. We had a chance to play around with the mounted cameras using the joystick fashioned control. I was amazed to see how a camera that was mounted on the top balcony of the 1+ million square foot building could zoom in on the wall at the front of the room, showing the texture details in the paint.
In the video control room everything comes together. During a production, the director calls the shots on everything. All of the camera, lighting and audio are choreographed ahead of time, but there are constantly changes and mishaps that need to be taken into account.
Let’s talk lighting for a minute. With 70 dimmer racks and approximately 100 dimmers in each one, there are over 6000 controllable outlets and dimmers. There are stage lights, lights that project images on the walls and lights that change the look of the famous organ pipes. When you are in the audience of a major production, it’s as if you are center stage. From the lighting control room the computer has a map of the stage allowing you to easily use pre-programmed settings or to try your own. Once again, we were allowed to have a little fun as we experimented with the controls (you should have seen the 70’s Technicolor transformation the organ pipes made)!
Amanda testing out the lighting controls
Now for a little more audio talk! From the audio mix room they run 2 HD systems simultaneously. Everything is multi-tracked through Pro Tools so that if they get to the end of a show and need to redo a piece, they can pull that mix and it is recorded and mixed again within 5 minutes. While it is currently a digital set up, they are actually in the process of going back to analog with and API Legacy Vision consul. Digital audio just doesn’t have the same quality as analog and doesn’t offer the flexibility that is necessary. We listened to a recording of the Tabernacle Choir accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square and I really noticed all of the layers of sound that contributed to the piece.
Thanks again to Jason McFarland and his team for providing this tour. Being new to the audiovisual industry, I am so glad that I could experience such an impressive display of AV at its best.
This blog was originally posted at The Sahuarita Sun. Read original post >>>
In technology time, the idea of “looping” to help those with hearing loss hear better is ancient. But everyday, there still are people with access to better hearing who aren’t using it.
In Green Valley, that could amount to quite a few, as at least a third of the over-60 population is estimated to have some level of hearing loss, and half of the over-75 crowd, significant loss, says Lou Touchette, a Green Valley resident who found help for his own hearing loss through looping technology, and has installed the wire system in numerous facilities throughout Tucson and Green Valley. He’s also part of the Arizona Loss of Hearing Association (ALOHA), a non-profit support group for the deaf, hard of hearing and their families and its “Let’s Loop Tucson” initiative to equip as many rooms and facilities as possible, making it easier for the hearing impaired to hear with more clarity.
Looping technology has been around for years, and more than 80 percent of hearing aids have a loop called a telecoil, or t-coil — a tiny spool of wire that converts sound from a microphone, TV or radio into magnetic energy that fills a room, helping users hear with less background noise. Every hearing aid manufacturer has a t-coil model, said Dr. John Cobb, an audiologist with Arizona Hearing Specialists in Green Valley. But probably 20 percent of hearing aid owners don’t use them, he says.
Many don’t know whether theirs has a t-coil, and if it does, how to activate it, he said, noting that Arizona is one of the few states in which hearing aid sellers must, by law, indicate on the purchase contract whether a hearing aid has a coil.
Some people don’t use their hearing aids at all, often because they’re in denial about hearing loss, Cobb said. As speech-discriminating skills start to fade with age, depression, anxiety and paranoia can result, according to a National Council on Aging survey. But once a person accepts hearing loss, the fix is relatively simple for most, say fans of looping, which has become so popular in Green Valley that it is now one of, if not the most-looped, areas in the United States. Maybe even only second behind Holland, Mich.
There Are Options
“I’ve heard that, but don’t think it’s documented,” Cobb said. A transplant to Green Valley from Texas three years ago with hearing loss of his own attributed to playing in a rock band when he was younger, Cobb sees many patients who can’t admit they need help.
With about 30,000 part- and year-round residents in Green Valley and its abundance of senior citizens, it’s likely that at least 10,000 people here have some hearing loss, many of whom could benefit from looping, Touchette said. For some, it might only involve activating a switch on a t-coil hearing aid they already have.
And Green Valley’s getting looped, alright. The first known hearing loops were installed in Green Valley Recreation facilities in about 2004, said Shelly Freeman, GVR lead sound and light technician. For a year, she researched ways to improve sound quality for patrons of the organization’s major social halls before deciding on looping.
“Nobody in Green Valley or Tucson was doing it at the time,” she recalled. Years later and with the understanding that no system is perfect, especially with a microphone moving around with a performer on stage, she still calls looping a good investment. Coaching the hearing impaired on how to set their hearing aids for the right size room and type of event was a challenge partially met through loop workshops, but is ongoing, she said. While t-coils were originally designed to amplify a land-line telephone, there are many more magnetic sources now that can be “heard” by a coil-equipped hearing aid. The newest challenge is that users start with a phone volume and don’t adjust it for a large-room setting, Freeman said. Settings differ for a soloist and a full concert, and can even be adjusted to minimize a robust horn section so other instruments and vocals don’t get lost. “Not a lot know they have these options,” she said.
Lots of Looping
Freeman favors the t-coil system over others on the market because it allows a dignified way for the user to hear better without letting the world know they need help. T-coil equipped hearing aids can be worn over the ear, in the ear or as a plug in the ear canal. Those without t-coil aids can use a portable receiver, which picks up the magnetic sound and channels it to a headset.
Since GVR looped five facilities, at least 15 other area organizations have added the technology, including nine churches, Joyner-Green Valley Branch Library, La Posada retirement village, Casa de Esperanza Senior Center, Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging; Community Performance and Arts Center, and Cobb’s office. The latest to get looped is the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers Building, where dozens of active volunteers and Pima County Sheriff’s staff meet monthly. The system was donated by Cobb and installed by Touchette, who will formally be recognized for their efforts at SAV’s next meeting November 12.
It’s so new, officials are still getting their heads wrapped around it, so to speak, said SAV President Wilma Ludwig. It was installed just before the last meeting with no time to notify attendees in advance. Ludwig isn’t sure how many will benefit but said the group plans to purchase headphones for those without t-coil hearing aids.
“We’re also hoping that, with the receivers, maybe by trying this people will realize their hearing is not what it should be,” Ludwig said. “I’m glad we have this and will encourage people to use it.”
Cost-wise, getting looped runs $250 to $300 for a home installation, and $2,000 or more for a church or other large venue, depending on complexity, said Touchette, who also teaches classes on how to install loops in the home. He lost much of his hearing driving farm tractors as a kid then later working as a jet fighter mechanic without much ear protection. He eventually developed tinnitus, a ringing in the ears, and in 1977 was diagnosed with severe hearing loss. In the 1990s, he joined a self-help group for the hard of hearing where he learned about telecoil technology, and has been an advocate for it since.
After moving to Arizona, he joined the ALOHA board in Tucson and took on the “Loop Tucson” challenge, part of which involves giving demonstrations on looping and training workshops. In 18 years, he has installed 100 loops.
Cobb said he’s been told by patients how much t-coils have changed and improved the quality of their life. One of Freeman’s fondest moments involved a GVR stageplay actor several years ago who couldn’t hear his cues. She said she asked him if he had a telecoil but didn’t know how far the loop extended into the stage area. They tried it and discovered it worked, and at the next rehearsal he was on time with all his cues without any help.
Generally, the loops in all GVR facilities work well, she said. “We get good feedback from members.”
She welcomes any GVR member wanting to know more about the system and would consider offering workshops again if there is interest, she said.
Printed with permission from the author, Kitty Bottemiller.
This blog is the second in a three part series. To read the first blog click here >>>
As part of our AV Week Activities, a week designated to celebrate, promote and share AV throughout our community, I was able to tour the LDS Conference Center with almost 40 Listen Technologies employees and friends. The Conference Center has the ability to interpret and disburse 97 languages live.
Not even the United Nations comes close to that number (they interpret 6 languages live). I was impressed by many things during the tour, but I think that the language interpretation process is especially impressive as it really is uncharted territory.
On the 2nd floor between the main auditorium floor and balcony, is the language interpretation area. There are 58 individual language booths, a general meeting area, a control room and one set of bathrooms. ASL translation is performed in a different area as it requires its own studio and production staff. During LDS General Conference, which is two full days of content streamed live twice a year, they will simultaneously translate up to 97 languages. Each language team has from 6 to 16 people, depending on the availability. Even more impressive to note, these interpreters are volunteers. That’s anywhere from 500-600 people who freely donate the time and talents. And remember, there’s only one set of bathrooms.
Each booth is set up for two people to see and hear the broadcast; one is actively translating while the other is on standby for backup. In many languages, there are not locals who can either speak fluently or without a thick accent. For these languages a Tieline codec is used and the audio is sent directly to that country, using IP, ISBN and analog phone lines, where it is interpreted and sent back to the Language Control Room and then distributed around the Conference Center campus using Listen Technologies and other receivers. In all there is less than a ten second delay from the time the original content is spoken, to the time the interpreted language is received. It makes my head spin just thinking about it!
Everything produced out of the Conference Center, is in a minimum of 13 languages though the majority goes out in 32. To keep things moving quickly, the translations are all recorded and cut at the same time. This goes for audio recordings, films and productions.
The Translation Control Room has a complete wall of custom designed boxes, 48 ATM-2000 (Automatic Translation Mixers) designed by dlb Research. The ATM-2000 automatically adjusts the microphone volume of each interpreter, fades the live program up and down for the musical numbers and provides an intercom to each interpreter’s booth. From the Windows based control surface allows the operator to monitor all 96 languages, see at a glance the status of microphones and signal levels, as well as use a talkback system to speak to individual interpreters or all at once.
“Fifty years ago we were interpreting from dirt floors in the Tabernacle, and now we are interpreting for a single event from essentially anywhere in the world,” said Brad Lindsay, the Church’s manager of interpretation services. “This is a huge change, and technology makes this all possible.” Source >
It’s inspiring to see just what can be achieved as technology evolves.