Calvary Chapel Offers Language Interpretation

With a thriving ministry in Salt Lake City, Utah, Calvary Chapel had just one drawback: they did not offer Spanish language services, and thus could not adequately serve the growing Hispanic community around them. The solution? Real-time language interpretation equipment from Listen Technologies Corporation.

The first step was to research their options, notes Calvary’s Jim Harris, church administrator, who turned to the internet for his search. It didn’t take long for him to find Listen’s real-time interpretation and assistive-listening products. “We were impressed with the customer service and follow-through” provided by the greater Salt Lake City-area-based Listen dealer, Marshall Industries. The sound quality and competitive prices sealed the deal.

Answering an immediate need

The church placed an announcement in their bulletin, asking for volunteers comfortable enough with Spanish to assist with the interpretation. They found two. In the meantime, Listen sent them a demo. As soon as they had it, a family arrived for Sunday’s service needing language interpretation. The husband shared that his wife, who did not speak English, hadn’t attended church in over a year. She used the wireless equipment that morning and hasn’t missed a Sunday since.

The interpreters, who take turns between translating printed materials and interpreting services, watch the service on a monitor from a room offstage. They have Spanish/English Bibles printed with side-by-side columns, one in English and the other Spanish.

Real time in no time

The entire process – from the decision to try Listen’s equipment to the implementation of the system – took only four to six weeks, with assistance every step of the way from Listen’s corporate office and the dealer. Calvary also learned from Marshall Industries that their language interpretation system could be augmented to provide assistive listening. They offer listening assistance now too, thanks to the addition of a wireless transmitter for that purpose.

“We were already familiar with wireless,” says Harris, who explains that the pastor uses a wireless mic with the youth group.  Still, they were “surprised” by how seamlessly the Listen system worked, how easy it was to install, and how clear they found the sound. Another bonus, unique to this equipment, is that Spanish-speaking churchgoers need not sit in a specified section of the sanctuary.

Since implementing the system, Calvary, which in the summer hosts a Church in the Park every Wednesday, has been able to use Listen’s transmitter to facilitate sound at these outdoor events full of fellowship, music and breaking bread (a barbecue is part of the afternoon activities). It is flexibility like this that has made Listen’s equipment and service priceless to the ministry and to its Spanish-speaking community.

St. John’s Engages and Enlightens Congregants

When it came time to upgrade the sound system at the beautiful St. John’s Lutheran Church in Santa Rosa California, Pastor Michael Schmid chose top-rate equipment.
His reason was simple. “Sound is vital,” the pastor said. “There is no point in being there if people can’t hear.”
For his parishioners’ assistive listening needs, he chose Listen Technologies Corporation. Listen provided the church with high-quality wireless sound that allowed those with hearing impairments the flexibility to sit in favorite or preferred locations in the sanctuary. That freedom can be extremely important to some in a house of worship.
“The system we had before was hard-wired to designated seats,” Pastor Schmid said. “But that wasn’t desirable. We wanted a system that would enable them the freedom to sit wherever they want.”
Utah-based Listen Technologies Corp. designs and manufactures wireless devices to help people hear better. Listen’s LT-800 transmitter, which was wired off of the main audio mixer for the church sound system, sends a clear, noise-filtered signal directly to parishioners wearing discreet battery powered receivers with headsets. The system also helps the church meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Greg Adams, chief engineer and systems designer at Sound Expressions in Santa Rosa, said the pastor and others at the church were delighted with the Listen system when they heard the quality of sound.
“The Listen equipment sounded so good in there, it basically blew everyone away,” said Adams, whose company sold and installed the system. “All the different options with speakers, the neck loops, the ear buds, made it real easy to accommodate any particular hearing impairment.” St. John’s later decided to extend the Listen system to the Cry Room by installing an LR-600 Wireless Speaker/Receiver. That way, parents of fussy children could still hear the sermon.
“You can just turn the Listen speaker on to hear the service,” Pastor Schmid said. He’s been very pleased with the system’s performance.
“We want to bring the best to the Lord and also the best to the people,” he said. “So high-quality sound is very important. It’s not an area that you want to skimp on.”

Sign Language Interpreters Benefit From Wireless Audio

Houses of Worship are finding more uses for assistive listening systems with the availability of products offering increased flexibility along with great sound quality. For example, Grace Brethren Church in Simi Valley, California, is using a Listen system not only for assistance to hard of hearing congregants, but also for a hard-of-hearing sign language interpreter. She uses a Listen receiver to listen to the pastor at the podium or other audio over the PA system in order to interpret the spoken word into sign language.
As with many Houses of Worship, the walls at Grace Brethren Church are highly reflective for sound. Audio bounces around the room, making it very difficult for the hearing impaired interpreter to distinguish the speech in order to translate it into sign language. To solve this problem, the interpreter now wears a Listen belt-pack receiver and ear speaker to listen to the speech routed through the assistive listening transmitter.
“I don’t know what I would do without it,” said Marcia Walter, sign language interpreter at Grace Brethren. “Before I was literally at the mercy of the speaker at the pulpit. It they were too far back or turned even slightly, I couldn’t hear clearly or read their lips to interpret. I have been so thankful for this system. If I can help even one person to hear and understand the message better, my joy will be great and I will feel we have succeeded in our goals.”
Other members of the congregation with hearing loss may also listen to the assistive listening transmission and control their own volume while sitting anywhere in the congregation hall. One member of the audience at Grace Brethren uses a belt-pack receiver with a neckloop. The neckloop works with any T-coil hearing aid and allows the user to significantly adjust the volume in order to hear and understand the service, without environmental distractions that can otherwise be picked up by a hearing aid. This solution has been well received in many houses of worship.
With Listen’s LR-600 Wireless Speaker/Receiver, Grace Brethren or any other house of worship can pick up and amplify the assistive listening audio in a nursery or any remote room to listen to the service. No hard wires are needed!

A Very Moving Hearing Loop Demo

Last Friday I conducted a loop demo with Steve Schlaff of Norcon Communications, Inc. at Temple Israellocated in Lawrence, New York.

We used a 100 foot radius loop to cover five rows of seating.  What was interesting was that there were heat “caps” if you will all throughout the floor beneath the seating.  When I saw that and based on what I have learned about steel hindering the performance of a loop system I figured the system would never work.
For just such a reason like that, we also brought the FM and Infrared demo kits to show the client all three technologies and used a headphone amp to distribute the same signal of spoken word to all the systems.
Surprisingly, even with the heat caps every two feet or so under the seating, the loop system worked quite nicely.
So we waited for the client who was driving the project, a woman who has been very active with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and from our meeting was headed up to a weekend at the Hearing Loss Association of America seminar in New England.
She had all the Ampetronic hearing loop materials we gave the folks at the temple prior to us getting there.  She really did her homework.
So we have spoken word going through all three systems, none of us have any devices on, and the woman walks into the looped area.  Her eyes pop open and she says, “oh my God, oh my God, this is great!”  It took us all a bit by surprise because we were just talking with each other while she walked into the space, and the room was basically dead quiet since we had no devices on ourselves.
It was a dramatic response from her, and really something emotional to see.  Since being at Listen’s Springfest and hearing the sound bite illustrating what a hard of hearing person actually does hear, and also having my mother in law in that position, it was so gratifying to see the woman’s reaction.
synagogue-loop-demoShe and a few others had been Batmitzvah’ed recently in that Temple, and everyone who went through the ceremony gave short speeches.  While everyone said that the speeches were wonderful, this woman unfortunately couldn’t hear any of them because she couldn’t see them directly.
So with any luck, we will have a system sold with an FM system for overflow areas, and allow this woman and others in the congregation a chance to finally hear things they should.
It was a very moving demo, and great to see the loop technology at work.  Thanks as always to the folks at Listen for getting us the gear to make it happen.

Finds Long-Term Solution with Listen Wireless System

With a congregation of 6000 and three services daily, Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, found a long-term solution for integrating their non-English-speaking congregants: real time interpretation with wireless technology from Listen Technologies.
Located in the eastern part of San Diego County, El Cajon is home to the nation’s second largest Arabic population. Shadow Mountain also has a large number of Spanish-speaking members, as well as German and other non-Eng­lish-speaking visiting family members from time to time. Prior to acquiring their Listen system, separate church services accommodated Spanish- and Arabic-speaking parishioners. Timothy Hunten, the ministry’s technical di­rector, looked into how to best address the church’s unique multilingual needs and found Listen Technologies. Now services are more fully integrated, allowing for a greater degree of multicultural fellowship.
The real-time interpretation is conducted from five booths, each equipped with a video monitor and headphone allow­ing interpreters to observe what they are hearing during the approximately 90-minute services (sermons, which are the main portion of the interpretation, last approximately 40 minutes). Up to five channels may be accessed during a given service, one dedicated to assisted listening. Hymns, announcements, and dramatic enactments are not inter­preted, but non-English-speaking churchgoers find having their own language right in their ears helps them more fully understand and follow along.
Looking back, the entire acquisition process was really easy, says Hunten, who found Listen’s equipment to be “not only superior in sound quality, but a fraction of the competition’s cost.” The system has been worry-free from the start. Well, almost.
“We underestimated how much cable would be needed to set up the antenna (our church is quite large). We purchased the additional cable from a local retailer and we goofed. We bought the wrong kind. We couldn’t figure out why things weren’t working. Next thing I knew, Listen sent someone out get the problem resolved. We were astounded that a company would provide that kind of personal service for an account so small.”
“We’ve been thrilled with our investment,” he adds. “Once we tuned it in and tweaked it for optimum output, we haven’t had to do much with it. In fact, the only mainte­nance issue we’ve encountered is changing the batteries, and you can’t really call that maintenance, can you?”
The church’s 50 headsets are wheeled out to the lobby on a custom-built cart so churchgoers simply pick up headsets as they enter. “It has been so rewarding to look around dur­ing church services and see so many dif­ferent faces, to have such a clear picture of who we are as a com­munity,” says Hunten, who takes pride in knowing the church’s Arabic- and Spanish-speaking members feel at home, despite the language differ­ences. The system’s assisted listening component has also allowed quite a few elderly members to more fully participate in the church.
Impressed with Listen’s quality equipment and customer-oriented approach, Hunten says he has recommended the company to three or four other churches in the area, as well as other businesses that might find such a system useful. “I figure if our four-year-old system is this good, the newer Listen products have got to be even better.” We like the sound of that.

Interpretation Services Strengthens Palm Vista Community Church Membership

Not too long ago, Sovereign Grace Ministries sent four pioneering families to Miami to establish a new branch in the sunny resort city. The Marcos Gonzales family was one of those selected for the honor to build the membership of the new Palm Vista Community Church.
Having grown to 150 members in a short time, the congregation is strengthened by the Spanish Outreach efforts of its members. Playing a vital role in the success of this outreach program is language interpretation assistance using the LS-07 Portable FM System from Listen Technologies Corporation. The 15-person language interpretation technology enables Spanish-speaking members to participate in worship services in their own language.
“The system is a huge blessing for members and even for my family,” Gonzales said. “Like many other people, my mother wouldn’t be attending church at all if interpretation wasn’t offered.” Palm Vista Community Church now regularly provides interpretation for 10 members each week, and the 15-person system they purchased gives them room to grow.
Palm Vista Community Church meets in a junior high school for its worship services. An interpreter sits outside the auditorium and listens to the services through a headphone and then speaks the simultaneous interpretation into the microphone of his or her LT-700 Portable FM Transmitter. The powerful FM signal gets carried to the LR-400 Portable Display FM Receivers worn by Spanish-speaking members seated throughout the congregation and they hear the interpretation, crystal clear, through their headphones.
“We could have saved a few dollars and purchased a less expensive system, but we would have sacri­ficed sound quality to do it,” Gonzales said. He continued explaining that the school where meetings are held is constructed of heavy concrete walls that inter­rupt most cell phone signals. “We tried a few different systems, and Listen was better than everything else. We get strong, clear sound ev­ery time.” Gonzales said. He further explained that if they had settled for lower quality, their technology investment would have been a wasted investment.
“The handy carrying case also makes it easy for us to take this system with us anywhere,” Gonzales said. “Things can get banged around in a junior high school, but this case helps us keep the equipment safe and secure.”
Gonzales first saw a Listen system used at a church retreat that included several churches from around the Western hemisphere. Another church had rented a system to pro­vide interpretation for participants from South America, and Gonzales immediately recog­nized how the same system could help him draw and serve members from the Spanish-speaking community in his area.
When asked what advice he’d give someone considering a portable wireless audio system, Gonzales gave two points:
1) Shop at least three dealers to ensure a fair price.
2) Try different systems before buying.
“Try the competition. But at the end of the day, you’ll buy Listen and the customer services of an audiovisual dealer,” Gonzales said.Community Ch

Multiple Wireless Listening Solutions in Use at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

When the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels was built for the Los Angeles the Archdiocese’s investment of $189.5 million delivered a campus over 64,000 square feet and a monumental structure that can accommodate 3,000 parishioners in the main sanctuary.
It is located in the heart of Los Angeles, right off the Hollywood Freeway. Along with the potential urban noise, the interior’s limestone, wood and poured concrete surfaces created acoustic challenges.
Based on preliminary investigations, the acoustical reverberation of the untreated sanctuary would have fallen in at some 14 seconds RT60 (great for a pipe organ, but making speech almost unintelligible). This made getting a proper sound system including the assistive listening system very important.
Listen Technologies Corporation provided the answer with an installed assistive listening solution using the LT-800 Stationary FM Transmitter distributing audio to listeners using the LR-500 Programmable Display Receivers. Now worshippers simply adjust the volume on their personal receivers and enjoy the enriching service.
But the Archdiocese had other needs beyond assistive listening. A center for culture and exchange, they regularly hold conferences and meetings where language interpretation is necessary, many times in multiple languages. Listen’s 57 channels and programmable receivers make this easy for Archdiocese officials and participants alike, as the receivers can be programmed on-site to display only the channels being used. For example channel “S” can be programmed for Spanish, channel “F” for French and so on.
The receivers are then distributed to guests along with a program telling them the channel assignments for each language. Guests can easily select the appropriate channel for their languages, using the display on the LR-500 units.
cathedralThe Cathedral and the surrounding campus also receive a number of visitors to experience the unique architecture and exquisite priceless artwork on display. The Listen LT-700 Portable Transmitter, used with individual receivers, makes the perfect solution for tour groups as they are led through the facility. Tours can be conducted in multiple languages thanks to a large number of channels available in the Listen systems.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is a perfect example of the flexibility and usefulness of Listen systems. Auditory assistance, language interpretation, and tour group communications, all using the same product, providing wireless audio of the highest quality with minimal effort. In a word, inspiring.

InfoComm Lunch & Tour Of Smoky Hill Vineyard Church

On December 8, 2011, InfoComm made an appearance at Smoky Hill Vineyard Church in Denver Colorado, teaming up with Logic Integration and putting on a fantastic presentation on DSP, digital signage, and digital content. After the presentation Shawn Hansson with Logic Integration conducted a tour of the church using a 28 person Listen Technologies tour system which provided clear and precise speech, allowing tour participants to understand all of the gear at this house of worship.
The event began with a presentation on digital signal processing (DSP) and all of the things they are used for and all the applications they are specified in. The group was also shown a very unique instant text to vote system using DSP technology.

Kristen Chasey
with Logic Integration is their expert in digital signage and she explained what exactly digital signage is and how it is used everywhere! Kristin showed us how basic digital signage can be used such as; a fast food menu and also how complicated it can get as in monitoring airport flights with hundreds of displays.

Bill Craig
, VP of Business Development for Logic Integration presented a topic they like to call “analog sunset” obviously saying goodbye to analog and welcoming digital in everything we do. Bill taught everyone how EDID is a handshake sort of process when using a digital display with a digital source. He also showed everyone DVI, HDMI, and all of the digital cables and how they are used for different situations.

Shawn Hansson CEO of Logic Integration had the honor of using the Listen Technologies tour system for his church overview. He took the group behind the stage showing everyone the cabinets of gear the church uses for all their AV, a full functioning Starbucks restaurant was also at this facility with a number of digital signs, the hallway behind the screens was very thin to fit and hear everything Bill was saying which made the Listen tour system an excellent demonstration on how much it helps in this type of application.

Tour participants make their way through the church
Shawn Hansson, CEO of Logic Integration led the tour

Get Ready For Your Holiday Sound Challenges

Is your house of worship sound system ready to meet the challenge of the holidays? Or will you and your congregation be annoyed and disappointed once again by poor sound intelligibility, runaway feedback squeals, and frustrated musicians?
During the holidays, pageants, special services, and concerts make extraordinary demands on your sound system and staff…
The HOW-TO Church Sound Workshops, the nation’s leading providers of sound worship training, are ready to help by offering our seasonal SAT training sessions during December.
These System Analysis & Training (SAT) sessions are dedicated to fixing what ails your sound system — from how to set up microphones to configuring mixing boards to adjusting speakers and everything in-between.
Plus, we provide hands-on training for your Sound and Praise teams on your own sound system including how to do a proper sound check and getting the band to turn down their stage volume. That’s 8 hours of sound system set-up and hands-on training on your own gear with your musicians and sound teams!
Our SAT sessions have helped dozens of churches throughout the USA make holiday and year-round services more productive and enlightening. We are here to serve you. Click HERE to read church testimonials, letters of recommendation and past and present church sites.

Please contact me, Hector La Torre at 732-741-1275 or [email protected] for pricing and scheduling. We have a limited number of open SAT dates available on the east coast month, so call now for scheduling. More SAT dates will be open in 2012, so contact us now for next season’s road schedule, no matter where you’re located in the country.

This year be prepared for the holidays.

Can They Hear?

This blog post was originally posted in the Technologies for Worship Magazine audio e-newsletter.

intelligibility-house-of-worshipThe Bible speaks of the importance of hearing the Word, and also cautions “Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.” [1 Cor. 14:7 – 9 – New American Standard Bible]

To put this in modern terms, intelligibility is important. Just because your congregation can hear that someone is preaching does not mean that they can understand the words. While the scripture above was not written about the acoustics and sound systems used in our churches today, the same principles still apply.

There are lots of factors that go into determining if a given member of your congregation can understand what is said. First, there is the issue of language. Unless the preacher or other person speaking is talking in a language, dialect, and accent the listener understands, very little communication will happen. Even if everyone shares a common language, the care with which the words are enunciated can make a difference. Slang and colloquial usage can either help or hinder communication depending on the talker and listener sharing a common cultural reference.

Background noise can detract from communication, as can echoes or excessive reverberation of the room. Sound systems can to some degree help overcome acoustic limitations by raising the voice level over background noise, and if the sound system is designed correctly, by increasing direct voice relative to the reflections from the room.

How the sound system is operated can have a big effect on communication clarity. Realize for example that those new to your house of worship may not know the words to your songs, and making sure the words can be heard clearly in the middle of the music can really help. When running sound do not only think of “does this sound good”, but also “is this clear”. Remember you know the music well, and if it is the second service with the same sermon, you also know what will be said. It is easy to overlook poor clarity when you already know what is being sung or said. You should realize this unconscious bias and work to overcome it so everyone can hear and understand.

Lastly, you need to keep in mind that not everyone has perfect hearing. As people get older their hearing naturally gets worse. Some folk, even the young, have experienced hearing damage. This might be because of exposure to excessive sound levels, or it may result from medical conditions. No matter what the cause, we have to work extra hard to enable those with hearing loss to understand the service. Your church should consider adding an assistive listening system. Such systems let those with hearing loss hear the words and music without the effects of the room acoustics. This can greatly increase their ability to understand and enjoy the services.

In future issues of the newsletter, we will look in more detail at some of the factors that impact intelligibility and what you can do to improve things. The first and most important part is just being aware of the issue and running the sound system in a way to deliver the clearest sound you can.

Ray Rayburn, FAES
[email protected]

Ray has been an engineer in acoustics, audio systems, and telecommunications for over 30 years. He is the current chair of the AES Standards Subcommittee on Interconnections, is the author of Technologies for Worship Magazine’s bi-weekly audio newsletter and was one of the authors of the Handbook for Sound Engineers.

Ray has created some of the most advanced software-based project designs in use today, including the United States Senate Chamber, and taught the “advanced users” training seminars on the MediaMatrix configurable DSP product.

As a recording engineer for RCA, Ray recorded the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Frank Zappa. In 2009, Ray was made a Fellow in the Audio Engineering Society.

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