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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
Pasco News

Richey Suncoast Theatre adds audio gear for hearing impaired


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NEW PORT RICHEY — If you only heard every other word of a TV show or movie, the plot wouldn’t make a lot of sense without the dialog or background music.

Richey Suncoast Theatre officials also realize the importance of good sound for their plays and performances.

Director Marie Skelton and the theater crew got a bit of help from their friends at the Sertoma Speech & Hearing Foundation to install the latest gear for a hearing-assistance system at the playhouse in downtown New Port Richey.

The hearing loop lets patrons who wear a hearing aid with a telecoil enjoy performances.

The sound system sends a signal directly to the hearing aid so that every word of dialogue or note of music can be heard clearly, said Craig McCart, executive director of the Sertoma foundation.

The installation, made possible through the St. Petersburg-based company Hearing Loop Group, is gaining popularity in many areas where crowds gather. It is a result of a joint project of the Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Academy of Audiology.

People are amazed to find out how much easier it is for them to hear with these tools, Skelton said.

“The loop system is wired around the perimeter of the lower level, and those with hearing aids and cochlear implants can hear everything said onstage,” Skelton says in a written announcement.

The telecoil is a small copper wire in the hearing aid that makes a big difference in a person’s ability to hear clearly and understand dialogue.

In the 126-seat balcony, people with hearing difficulties can hear the performance via FM headsets that allow them to adjust the volume.

“The total cost of the project was $4,000, and the Sertoma Foundation used money received from the Rotary Club of New Port Richey and the West Pasco Sertoma Club to complete the project,” McCart says in a written announcement.

“We are so grateful to the clubs and foundation,” Skelton said. “It enhances the personal experience of a theater performance for the hard of hearing. It’s accessible and state of the art. There is nothing like it in the surrounding counties for a theater this size.”

She also noted that speakers have been installed in the lobby so that anyone who has to leave their seat can still hear what’s going on.

Hearing loss is the most common birth defect nationally. Early detection and intervention is vital for an infant, McCart said.

The Sertoma foundation helps hard-of-hearing babies and children hear the world around them so they can succeed.

For about the foundation, see to www.family hearinghelp.org.

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