Seattle theater patrons who have hearing loss and have had trouble fully enjoying productions at the Seattle Repertory Theater will benefit from new technology that’s been installed.
The Rep announced this week that induction hearing loops have been added to both its Bagley Wright and Leo K. Theatres, as well as throughout the lobby. The aim is to enhance the listening experience for theatergoers and create an inclusive arts community.
According to the Rep, the technology works like so:
Hearing loops allow users to connect wirelessly to onstage microphones by pressing a button on their hearing aid or cochlear implant, activating a telecoil, a small copper coil found in most aids and implants. A loop is a copper wire installed throughout the theatre’s seating area, creating a magnetic field that enables a telecoil to wirelessly transmit direct sound to the listener.
Seattle Rep is one of only three institutions in the greater Seattle area to install the technology, joining Town Hall and Bellevue Art Museum. It’s prevalent in theaters throughout the U.K. and Scandinavia, but just becoming more widespread in the U.S.
“Our patrons were telling us our assistive listening systems needed an upgrade, and we’re pleased to introduce this to the Seattle arts community,” Jeffrey Herrmann, the Rep’s managing director, said in a news release.
For patrons who don’t have hearing aids or a personal telecoil receiver, the Rep has headsets available at coat check that can access the new hearing loop technology.
On April 24, the theater will host a public unveiling of the hearing loop system at 7 p.m., prior to a captioned, preview performance of “Sherlock Holmes and The American Problem,” which will start at 7:30.