Experience More with Assistive Listening Systems

When Hale Centre Theatre was planning its brand-new building in Sandy, Utah, leaders knew they wanted the space to be as inclusive as possible with the best assistive listening system available. That meant installing a state-of-the-art hearing loop in the theatre.


“We feel like theater, really well done, offers a much-needed escape in an ever-busier world,” said Quinn Dietlein, Hale Centre Theatre’s development director and annual giving manager. “We also feel that this opportunity should be available to as many people as possible. The hearing loop is giving so many of our patrons an experience they’ve never had before. We have had close friends with hearing loss literally in tears after enjoying a show and being included like never before.”


More Americans experience hearing loss than you might think. Hearing loss makes it difficult for people to fully experience something like a play at the Hale Centre Theatre, but assistive listening systems can help. So what are assistive listening systems, who needs them, and are they required?


What does assistive listening mean?

Assistive Listening Systems, also known as assistive listening devices, take sound from a source and transmit it to a receiver that delivers the sound to a user’s ear. The systems use one of several types of technology:

  • Infrared: IR is a great solution for classrooms, corporate boardrooms and courtrooms – basically anywhere a private audio signal is necessary. It uses infrared light to send audio to an IR receiver and earphones. No one can receive the signal outside of a specific area and it won’t pass through walls.
  • Radio Frequency: An RF signal doesn’t require line of sight, as IR does. Audio is transmitted via a radio frequency to a receiver and earphones.
  • Loop: Many people consider the loop to be the best all-around solution for assistive listening systems. Loop systems use an electromagnetic field to send sound to anyone with telecoil technology in their hearing aids or cochlear implants. Venues can also choose to transmit the signal to a receiver and earphones.
  • Wi-Fi: Systems like Audio Everywhere from Listen Technologies provide audio streaming solutions for churches, universities, bars and more. Wireless audio is available via a free downloadable app, enabling guests to use their own iOS and Android devices for assistive listening.

Assistive listening systems use a variety of technologies to deliver sound to hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other receivers.


Who needs assistive listening systems?

Approximately 48 million Americans, or 20 percent of the country’s population, have some degree of hearing loss. About 15 percent of school-aged children experience hearing loss and by age 65, one in three Americans has some hearing impairment. The degree of hearing loss within this group varies from minor to profound. But having an assistive listening system available will help them listen more clearly and understand more of what they hear.


Who must have an assistive listening system?

Luckily for Americans with hearing loss, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides some relief. The ADA requires that public spaces offer an assistive listening system unless the requirement is an undue burden. Theaters, courtrooms, lecture halls, legislative chambers, stadiums, and convention centers are some places that are required to have an assistive listening system by law. Public assembly areas where audible communication is integral to the space must be compatible with t-coil hearing aids, and the number of receivers required is based on the seating capacity of the space.


Hearing loss is a common condition in the United States. Assistive listening systems help people hear, ensuring that millions of people aren’t left out of essential experiences in public spaces and some workplaces.

Legislation Around the Nation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improve Your Tours by Using the Guided Tour “E” Principles

While visiting Glacier National Park last summer, my wife and I booked a tour of the park on the Red Bus Jammer Tour. We decided that we wanted to let someone else drive the narrow, winding roads so we could enjoy the spectacular scenery and views.

In addition to riding in a vintage bus, which immediately captured my interest, our tour guide made the 6-hour tour exciting and interesting the whole time. She practiced and exhibited what I call the 3 E’s of Guided Tours.

  • Excited
  • Exciting
  • Experience


Our tour guide was excited to be there. She was excited for us to be there. She greeted us with an energetic smile, outlined what we would be doing and seeing, and asked if there was anyone that would like to ride co-pilot as this was her first day and she wanted someone to take over if needed.

As it turned out, of course, it wasn’t her first day. She and her husband had been driving Red Jammer Tour buses for several years and had been working at the park for 14 years! What was so amazing is that she maintained that excited attitude the whole day, as if it were her first day.


Our Tour Guide made the entire day exciting. She was an encyclopedia of Glacier Park stories and facts like “National Parks are to Protect and Preserve”, how recent fires had destroyed so many acres, bear sightings, and the status of the remaining glaciers. She pointed out several features along the tour that were her favorites: waterfalls, stories of the Lodges, and the best photography locations.

Do you know how to tell when a canyon was created by a glacier? The canyon will have a distinctive “U” shape. (see photo above)


The tour was an enjoyable and memorable experience. We have told friends about our Glacier tour and have recommended it to many. Our tour guide made the Red Jammer Bus Tour of Glacier a complete experience, exceptionally packaged and presented. (Mother Nature did a great job too).

For excellent guided tours, try using the Guided Tour 3 “E’s” Principles.

Excited + Exciting + Experience = Excellence

Listen Technologies