Theatre unveils new technology for hearing impaired

Posted at: 05/22/2013 4:48 PM
Updated at: 05/22/2013 5:50 PM
By: Benita Zahn

ALBANY - Capital Rep is premiering new technology that promises to enhance the theatrical experience for the hearing impaired.

“You go in there you're excited, you expect to hear the actors, expect to hear the music and it's all a jumble, it's a mess.”

  That's what it's been like to attend a theatrical performance of any kind for composer Richard Einhorn. He abruptly lost most of his hearing two years ago.

  But the new technology just installed at Capital Rep will change that.

“On a scale of 1 to 10 it's a 12. It's that big a deal. “

   The big deal is a hearing loop .. a  wire, that in this case, circles about two thirds of the theater. It's connected to a sound system. The loop transmits sound electromagnetically - the signal is picked up by the telecoil in a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

“It takes out all the background noise and brings, takes the musicians or the actors and makes it as though they're talking right into my ear,” said Capital Rep board member Paul Czech

Paul Czech lost his hearing three years ago due to an illness. Now he relies on bilateral cochlear implants.  So he urged Cap Rep's producing director, Maggie Mancinelli install the loop.

“And then I started noticing how many people asked for our hearing devices and I started you know realizing how many people wear hearing aids in our audience and how sometimes they're embarrassed to even ask for a hearing device ,” she said.

    Together  they secured a $4,500 grant from the Community Foundation to purchase the loop. Volunteers helped install it. And how does it sound? This test headset simulates what Paul and Richard hear.

“So as a board member I'm thrilled. I'll be able to subscribe and come to the theater again. “