MARQUETTE Ã‚– Northern Michigan UniversityÃ‚’s Forest Roberts Theatre has installed a new Assisted Listening Device (ALD) system for the benefit of patrons who have trouble hearing stage dialogue and music. The audio devices will be available to audience members for the first time during the production of Our Town April 14-17.
Victor Holliday, NMU professor and scenic designer, said the new system uses an FM signal. He said it is a step above the previous system, which relied on digital infrared technology.
Ã‚“The FM system provides much better coverage throughout the auditorium because it operates through a frequency signal rather than line of sight, so you donÃ‚’t have any weak areas like we had with the infrared,Ã‚” Holliday said. Ã‚“ItÃ‚’s also smaller and less complicated. The only equipment required is a little transmitter and a small antenna that we will mount on the back wall of the theater. It takes the signal from the wall-mounted performance microphones and sends it to the system.Ã‚”
Forest Roberts Theatre has 12 portable listening devices for patrons who request them. Each is a compact unit that either clips on a jacket or slips in a pocket. It is connected to a single earphone that a patron inserts in either ear. The units also have individual volume control.
Ã‚“Our new ALD system is from an established company and based on established technology,Ã‚” Holliday added. Ã‚“It is probably the most common form of ALD in use, so we feel pretty confident about how it will perform and its durability.Ã‚”
Holliday said assisted listening devices are mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act for public venues such as theaters, concert halls and auditoriums.