Assisted hearing system appearing in venues across NM

Created: 07/11/2014 11:04 AM
By: Nicole Brady, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Imagine going to watch your favorite band in concert or a musical or even a lecture and listening the whole time with a pillow over your ears. This is the reality for many people dealing with hearing loss.

But a technology going into venues across New Mexico is helping give them back what they've been missing.

Albuquerque Little Theater's recent production of Les Miserables played to sold out crowds. But a few years ago, some of the people in that audience probably would not have bothered to buy a ticket because they wouldn't have been able to hear the show very well.

"They can have the most wonderful PA system in the world, but I still can't hear or understand what's being said," Stephen Frazier said.

Frazier is among the estimated 13 percent of New Mexicans suffering from hearing loss. But he doesn't have a problem at Albuquerque Little Theater because this venue is now fitted with an assisted hearing system known as a "loop."

Just this week, the same system was installed at the Cell Theater in Albuquerque. Crews strung up a wire that will encircle future audiences there, transmitting a signal to those with hearing aids.

"Folks who are hard of hearing hear no echoes, no air conditioner, no reverberation, no interference--just clear sound," said Mike Langner, a New Mexico Loop volunteer.

The loop system even adjusts to a person's individual type of hearing loss, which is often a loss of clarity, rather than volume.

Frazier hopes more public venues will get on board 

"I know when I go to an Albuquerque City Council meeting, I can't understand most of what's being said," he explained.

Frzazier wants to get the city council chambers looped and he said he would love to see a loop in one of the loudest arenas in college basketball: The Pit, where even those with perfect ears can have a hard time hearing.

As for Langner, his love of community theater inspired him to pay out for the loops at the Cell, Albuquerque Little Theatre and other venues of his own pocket. He wants all people of all ages to continue to enjoy the show.

To learn more about other places with hearing loops, visit the Hearing Loss Association of Albuquerque's website.

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