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.
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.
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.
There Are Options
Lots of Looping
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.