Hearing Assistance Technology for Cinemas
Seeing a movie is a relaxing, entertaining experience that should be accessible to everyone – this includes those who are deaf or hard of hearing. You may have sorted out your seating, chosen the best cinema screen and carefully considered your acoustics, but what about your hearing impaired patrons? In the past, catering to them hasn’t always been an option, but increasingly government legislation and community awareness is requiring it. Fortunately, modern technology is making this easier and more and more cinemas are providing hearing assistance.
One of the most common ways that cinemas can provide hearing assistance is to have an audio frequency induction, or ‘loop’. So what is a loop? A loop transmits sound using a loop of wire to a suitable receiver such as a telecoil in a hearing aid, and is generally used to cut down background noise.
Induction loops are relatively inexpensive, especially if you consider that multiple listeners benefit from the one loop system. Although a loop provides hearing assistance to all patrons in your cinema, the sound is tailored to the individual because it is filtered through their personal hearing aid. Loops are also great because they don’t require the listener to buy any extra equipment (besides their own hearing aid).
So how do loops work? Here’s the technical explanation…
The loop system uses a wire loop around an area (like an auditorium) that connects to an amplifier. The signal, in this case from the speakers, goes to an amplifier, and this drives the current around the loop. As the current is flowing, a magnetic field is created within the area inside the loop, and this transmits to the telecoil, or an induction loop receiver.
If a hearing aid is switched to the ‘T’ position, the changes in the magnetic field can be picked up by the telecoil. The telecoil in the hearing aid then converts the changes back into alternating currents. These are then amplified by the hearing aid and converted back into sound.
Besides loops, there are two other common hearing assistance technologies available: the Infrared (IR) and the FM carrier system. Both of these assistive listening technologies are also widely used, and they use audio signals that are transmitted to the listener’s audio signal receiver.
A good cinema supply specialist will be able to advise you on cinema hearing assistance and select the most suitable product for your venue.