Now more people can stay in the loop when they visit Gainesville’s Hippodrome Theatre.
The theater announced Thursday the installation of assisted hearing technology for its main stage and cinema.
Crime Prevention Security Systems installed Hearing Loop technology that will allow audience members to use their hearing aids as wireless loudspeakers. According to the Hearing Loop website, the techology uses telecoils to magnetically transmit sound to hearing aids and cochlear implants.
The project was funded by an $18,000 cultural facilities grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
Hippodrome co-founder and producing director Mary Hausch has a personal connection to hearing loss. She said her mother and other family members have impaired hearing, so she was excited to receive the grant that she’s been pushing for since 2007.
Sometimes people with hearing loss feel isolated, Hausch said, and part of the Hippodrome’s mission is to make theater accessible to everyone in the community.
She’s looking forward to seeing the turnout Friday night for the opening of the play “King o’ the Moon.” It will mark the first time the hearing system is used during a live performance.
“It was right on time,” she said. “It’s kind of a miracle, really.”
Gainesville audiologist Jagadish Swamy, whose company Clear Sound Audiology helped sponsor the system, said, “It reduces the background noises very significantly, and it facilitates clear speech and understanding.”
Randi Elrad, owner of Crime Prevention Security Systems, said she’s honored the Hippodrome is the company’s first Hearing Loop installation.
“People stopped going to these places based off of their ability to hear,” Elrad said. “We can now bring people back into the public and give them back their quality of life and let them hear all the phenomenal sounds that they’ve been missing.”