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).

Keeping the Drama on Stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), located in Ashland, Oregon, is known for a lot of great things. They’re known for fantastic performances, Shakespearean or otherwise. They’re known for cultivating diversity and culture in Oregon. And they’re becoming synonymous with providing great experiences for all of their patrons.

The OSF is definitely committed to providing a great experience to all. They strive to make their facilities accessible to everyone by providing a variety of accommodations for persons with disabilities; this includes people with hearing loss. Not only do they provide patrons with assistive listening devices from Listen Technologies, but they also schedule certain performances with sign interpretation and open captioning.

Going to the theater when you can’t quite hear what the actors are saying can be an incredibly frustrating experience for someone with hearing loss. For example, experiencing any one of Shakespeare’s plays without the ability to hear his rich language would diminish any audience member’s enjoyment.  Can you imagine seeing Hamlet without being able to hear the famous “To be or not to be,” speech or watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream without hearing Puck pose his continually impish quips? It would be more tragic than King Lear!
Luckily, the OSF is taking a fresh approach to combining assistive listening and Shakespeare, so those with hearing loss can enjoy each and every soliloquy. With the use of Listen Technologies RF assistive listening equipment, the OSF provides its audience members the opportunity to experience the theater the way it should be experienced. This product allows the theater to wirelessly transmit audio from a fixed box to personal, portable receiver that an audience member uses like his or her very own private radio. This solution keeps all the tragedy on the stage, so that the audience members don’t have to miss out on experiencing the drama the way it should be experienced.

The OSF typically offers eleven different plays throughout its ten-month season. Although, their namesake is the Bard, the acting company also performs works by modern and contemporary playwrights. They also offer all kinds of classes, various artistic activities & events, and a Green Show before performances. This sort of drama is not to be missed.

Requesting and Using Assistive Listening Devices at Venues

Many people who experience hearing loss aren’t aware of assistive listening options that are available to them when attending concerts, museum exhibits , theater performances, lectures, sporting events in stadiums or ballparks, classes at school, etc,.

Under the 2010 changes to the American’s with Disabilities ACT (ADA), assistive listening devices are required by law at any venue that offers sound as part of their patron experience.  These venues have assistive listening systems available and they want their investments to be put to good use. 
The availability of the devices is indicted by signage which may look like:
Assistive listening devices can change a mediocre experience in a venue to an enjoyable one, as they bring the sound system source directly to the individual’s ear and elements the background noise in the venue.  Individuals deserve to hear clearly and to get what they came for while visiting these types of venues.
The below video demonstrates how you can know if a venue offers assistive listening devices, how to request them, and how to use these devices. Have a question about assistive listening? Let us know in your comments below. 

Multiple Identities at Hale Center Theater


This blog post has been re-purposed from a “Listen User Profile” of actual Listen customers detailing their experience with Listen Solutions.
The Hale Center Theater just outside of Salt Lake City had been filling its seats each night with the uproarious British farce, “One For the Pot.”
In this fast-moving tale of mistaken identity, one actor plays young Hickory Wood and his three identical quadruplets, each of whom is unaware of any others’ existence, but all of whom want to claim the inheritance of a rich business associate of their late father.

The delightful deceits of “Pot” require the actor who plays the young would-be heir and his siblings to make 50 entrances, speaking in four accents and portraying four different personas.
All went hilariously well at the Hale Center Theater until the main actor injured himself during one of the performances. The understudy, who had not had the chance to run through the whole show or even all of the scenes, was suddenly called into action.

“We felt this actor would end up playing the show with a script in hand so that we would be able to keep him straight,” said Michael Fox, the assistant box office manager at Hale Center. “We didn’t want to do it that way, of course.”

Fox said that’s when they remembered the Listen Technologies Corp. (ListenÆ) system for assistive listening that Hale Center uses to help patrons who are hard-of-hearing. The system transmitter plugs into the amplification system, with the sound wirelessly sent over FM radio waves to each patron wearing a discreet Listen battery-powered receiver and headset. They hear the sound clearly and without interference.

“We dreamed of a system that would allow our understudy to wear a listening device into which we could feed him his lines,” Fox said. “It would be akin to what a television news anchor wears on TV.” Fox called Listen, an international company that is headquartered near the Hale Center Theater in Sandy, Utah and a wireless audio system was delivered that afternoon.
Backstage that evening, the director was able to speak quietly into the Listen microphone, sending the signal to the actor wearing a tiny earpiece and wireless, concealable battery pack and receiver.
So while the four identical quadruplets and other parties to their folly became more confused as the play progressed, the actor himself was able to remain clear-headed and on cue, knowing his lines and proper identity were just a whisper away.

“Listen met all of our needs,” said Fox. And the show went on.

A New Day at Caesar’s Palace

Caesar’s Palace is home to one of the newest and most elaborately constructed theaters that is devoted to a single show. The Colosseum is a 4,100 seat theater and home to the new show featuring one of the world’s top selling female recording artists, Celine Dion. 

Construction of the $95 million theater began in Spring of 2001 and was completed when the show opened in March of 2003. “A New Day” was created by Franco Dragone, known for his work with Cirque du Solei. The 58 member cast performs on a 22,450 square foot stage with a state of the art sound and video system. Outside Caesar’s Palace is a giant 120 foot Mitsubishi LED wall marquee. In the theater, the show takes advantage of a video wall made up of 12 50-inch video cubes behind the stage, a state of the art 5.1 Meyer Sound System, and a Listen Technologies Corporation assistive listening system.
Listen products are ideal for the Grammy Award winner’s live performance. With a Listen LT-800 Stationary Transmitter installed with the main sound system, guests use individual LR-400 Display Receivers to hear the audio anywhere in the theater. Guests simply check out a receiver from guest services free of charge and find their seats. The units are electronically locked on channel, so the guest simply puts on the earphones and adjusts the volume to a comfortable level.
Listen products are widely used for live performances, theater productions, and other presentations due to its exceptional audio quality, ease of use, and simple maintenance. For more information on Listen products and their applications, check the web site at https://www.listentech.com

This blog post has been re-purposed from a “Listen User Profile” of actual Listen customers detailing their experience with Listen Solutions.

The Detroit Science Center

The Detroit Science Center, founded by Detroit businessman and philanthropist Dexter Ferry nearly 30 years ago, was among the first centers for scientific exploration and learning in the country to include an IMAX Dome Theatre. An exhibit floor program plan encourages hands-on interaction, exploration and study of science and technology. Plans to transform the Science Center into a leading center for science education began in late 1998. In December, 1999, ground was broken on a $30 million expansion and renovation.
In March 2001, Advanced Lighting & Sound (ALS) of Troy, Michigan was asked to design and install the audio systems within the Center. The Center wanted to have independent sound systems, with the ability to tie all systems into one main system when necessary. Their requirements for audio within the Center consisted of one main demonstration area, the Science Stage, and five (5) satellite areas (the Sparks Theatre, IMAX Theatre, Motion Lab, the Matter Energy Lab, and the Hut).
Committed to following the American with Disabilities Act guidelines, the Detroit Science Center wanted an auditory assistance system capable of serving four percent of their total capacity. ALS choose to use ListenÆ products. “We wanted to use the Listen system because it offers a single tunable receiver with multi-channel capabilities and rechargeable batteries,” said Greg Koss, Advanced Light & Sound System Integrator. “This means a visitor can tune into each individual exhibit as they pass by it just by pressing one of the presets.”
Each of the five presentation areas was configured with an appropriate sound system which included a wireless Listen system. With each transmitter rack mounted and remote antennas placed on the top of each rack, the system was able to deliver the needed assistance for ADA compliance. The Listen transmitters were set up so that from the master control area, all transmitters could be tied into a single system with the throw of a single switch.
ALS later installed a sixth transmitter in the Science Center’s Planetarium.

The Purple Rose Theater

It was Jeff Daniels ambition to become an actor. A struggling actor out of the small town of Chelsea, Michigan, Daniels received a prophetic call from the Artistic Director of the prestigious Marshall W. Mason’s Circle Repertory Company in New York City. It was that phone call that became Daniels’ break into major theatre and eventually, Hollywood.

After many years on the stage and screen, Daniels decided to move back to his roots in Michigan. With that move, he wanted to start a professional theatre company in the midwest that would allow area actors, playwrights, designers, etc. the opportunity to ply their craft and hone their skills.
In 1991, Daniels bought an old bus garage in the town of Chelsea with this dream in mind, and in the fall of that year the Purple Rose Theatre opened. In 1999, a full renovation of the non-profit theatre was accomplished thanks to donation efforts, costing over two million dollars to complete.
The theatre is configured in the round with a seating capacity of 168. The sound system includes a Yamaha 01V console, four (4) Community CSX-35 speakers, Bose speakers above the stage area, four (4) Tascam 801R dual mini-disc player/recorders and a few DSP’s. There are two (2) hanging microphones above the stage area.
The Chelsea community supports several retirement communities. After the renovations, Master Electrician Gary Ciarkowski received many requests for auditory assistance equipment. He approached Advanced Lighting and Sound for a solution.
Advanced decided that a Listen system would be the ideal solution for the venue. The LT-800 Stationary Transmitter was specified for the theatre, along with ten LR-300 Digital Receivers with headsets. The transmitter resides in the sound booth, with the antenna remoted within the theatre proper. Since its installation and implementation, the Listen system has performed admirably. “I’m impressed with the system’s fidelity and reliability,” Gary said. “And our patrons couldn’t be more pleased!”
You can learn more about the Purple Rose Theatre by going to their website at: www.purplerosetheatre.org
Article written by: Greg D. Koss, Systems Integration/Engineering, Advanced Lighting & Sound, Troy, MI.

The Hult Center for Performing Arts

The Hult Center for the Performing Arts opened in 1982 through perseverance and initiatives by the citizens of Eugene, Oregon. Since its opening the Hult Center has been delighting audiences and world renowned performers alike with its stunning architectural and acoustical features.
The Hult Center has become the artistic cornerstone of the community offering a range of environments for its artists. From the towering glass lobby, to the massive 2,500 seat Silva Concert Hall with its basket weave ceiling, to the intimate 500 seat Soreng Theater with its intriguing asymmetrical design, to the divine Jacobs Gallery downstairs, the Hult Center is a stunning venue for all.
The Hult Center strives to provide excellent services and support to its patrons and offers assistive listening devices to patrons at no charge. The assistive listening system had been in use for almost all of the twenty five years the Hult Center has been open. Recently the operations team determined that the existing system was in dire need of an update if they were going to continue providing quality service for their patrons.
Denny Conn, Head Audio Engineer for the Hult Center contacted Steve Armstrong, from Pros, Inc. to assess options for their assistive listening needs. Mr. Armstrong reviewed the possibility of repairing and upgrading the existing system or installing a completely new system. Because they wanted to broadcast in stereo as well as provide a descriptive listening channel, he recommended a new Stationary IR System from Listen Technologies. “He told us that it would provide us with enhanced performance over our old system, and at a fraction of the price we would pay for another competitor,” stated Mr. Conn.
Steve Armstrong contacted Kyle Anderson, President/CEO Principal Designer of AGI to arrange for a product demonstration. AGI, a Listen dealer is noted for designing and installing complete audio, video, lighting and acoustic solutions for large and small organizations throughout the world. “We brought in key potential users of the system to hear how it sounded and test how easy it was to use. All were very impressed with the quality of the Listen system,” said Mr. Conn.

The Buckhead Theater Rides Again

Atlanta’s historic registry just got a boost with the renovation of The Buckhead Theater.   At the height of the Jazz Age and the dawn of sound motion pictures, the theater opened its doors for the first time in June of 1930. After two years of renovation, The Buckhead is back in all its glory, playing once again to sold-out audiences.
Along with exotic and charming Spanish Baroque style architecture, The Buckhead Theatre now houses a new state-of-the-art suite of sound and lighting equipment. The revitalized interior plan increases flexibility for a variety of performances and events, including lectures, comedy, Broadway plays, rock-and-roll to jazz acts, and private and public events.
Early in the century, it’s doubtful that the original builders envisioned a venue that would be able accommodate a full range of hearing support. Enter Technical Services Audio-Visual (TSAV), a global professional audio-visual consulting, staffing, and systems integration company. Since its inception in 1991, TSAV delivers high quality AV solutions to their clients.
buckhead theaterThe RF Assistive Listening supplied by Listen Technologies fit the bill and all parties involved couldn’t be more pleased. Commenting on how the Listen system meets the needs of the Buckhead Theater, Pete Dugas, CEO at TSAV said “It works well, sounds great, and requires little long term support and maintenance. It all went very well.
Listen ALS systems help solve frustrating but common sound problems caused by distance, background noise, or poor room acoustics. Listen solutions include convenient, wireless equipment that helps you personalize the sound experience, so those who need extra assistance for any reason can hear effortlessly.
For a short term investment, the new and improved Buckhead Theater project promises to dazzle audiences for another eight or nine decade. We wish them all the best.

Utah Opera – Embrace the Romance – AV Week – Embrace the Power of AV

We had a great day Monday kicking off InfoComm AV week with a behind-the-scenes tour of Utah Opera’s production of La Bohème. Capitol Theatre in beautiful Salt Lake City Utah was our setting for the tour.
We had Listen peeps and some local InfoComm members join in on the fun. Several members of the Utah Opera staff guided us through the intricacies of producing a main-stage opera like La Bohème and some of the AV elements that are incorporated in an opera production.
Michelle Peterson, Utah Opera Company Director shared with us that opera as it is produced has not changed much technologically in the last 400 years of opera’s history. Opera is rich with old traditions and there is not a lot of technology used. This is due in part to the uncertainty of live performances and needing the ability to adjust to the flow of the conductor, orchestra and singers performance by performance. Opera singers do not use microphones to amplify their voices – they rely on their talent and the acoustics of their theaters to project their voices. Microphones are used to provide audio to the backstage areas.
Michelle also shared with us what is involved with planning for an opera production. Utah Opera plans its repertoire five years in advance. This allows for flexibility for casting the right talent and for fiscal responsibility with budgets.
One piece of AV technology which I found to be most helpful was the super titles that allow patrons to read what the artists are singing on stage, which in most cases is performed in a foreign language. The super-titles are displayed above the stage so that all patrons can see them. 
We were fortunate enough to hear from Paula Fowler, Utah Opera Education Outreach Director about the awesome educational programs they have for the local school children. She also shared with us the services they offer for the visually impaired and hard of hearing. They collaborate with the Moran Eye Center to deliver a special program to the blind and sight impaired. They provide the libretto in Braille, deliver a presentation where they pass around props and costumes so they can touch and get a sense of what is on stage. They also have a person describing the opera so that the visually impaired can get a real sense of the set, costumes, and what the artists are doing on stage.
Communication is key backstage at La Bohème and AV equipment has ensured that an opera production can run smoothly.

Typically taking place in the 1830s, Utah Opera’s production of La Bohème has been updated to 1939 pre-war in Paris – giving it a more modern feel. If you have not been to see an opera, musical or theater performance at Capitol Theatre I strongly recommend it. Watch this short video to see and hear from various staff members at Utah Opera what their favorite scenes are from La Bohème.

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