Can Assistive Listening Systems Enhance Your Services?
Choosing the right assistive listening system to use in your house of worship not only fulfills ADA requirements, but also makes religious services and group activities more rewarding.
What are ADA compliant assistive listening systems, and how can they help you make religious services accessible to everyone?
ADA Compliant Assistive Listening Systems Let Everyone Tune In
Churches and houses of worship (as well as other public spaces) are subject to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means that, for public meetings and services, ADA-compliant listening systems should be available on premises.
Even houses of worship which are exempt from ADA compliance have found that having a listening system can increase attendance and make religious services a more fulfilling experience for many.
Having assistive listening devices (ALDs) on hand not only serves elderly and hard-of-hearing parishioners, but also parents with babies or young children who may have to step outside for a few moments.
Which Assistive Listening System is Right for Your Church?
The two most effective and least complicated types of assistive listening systems use wireless transmission to boost volume into congregants’ personal headsets. These systems — FM and infrared — each have strong and weak points.
Infrared (IR) systems transmit and receive signals through infrared light which is beamed from the transmitter to the receivers.
Headsets are available with built-in receivers, or users who already use hearing aids can wear a small receiver that fits in a pocket.
Because IR systems transmit using infrared wavelengths, there’s no danger of interference with other FM based systems, even if they’re being used in the next room. IR can work no matter how small or large your house of worship is, as long as you use sufficient and strategically placed transmitters, which can cover up to 11,000 square feet with a single emitter.
If you’re thinking about an IR system, it’s important to figure out if the area you’re working in can accommodate transmitters that will beam to the entire room without any “dead spots,” and if there will be any kind of light (especially overhead fluorescent lights) interfering with the signal.
FM-based wireless systems are another option in places where infrared is impractical. In general, these systems offer superior ease of operation, as well as a major cost advantage.
How do FM assistive listening systems work? In essence, you’re using a tiny FM radio station to “broadcast” to your parishioners. Depending on how powerful the transmitter is, the range varies from a few hundred feet to a few thousand feet.
FM transmitters can be fixed frequency, meaning they’re permanently set to one frequency or station, or have multiple frequencies to prevent interference from other systems.
People with telecoil hearing aids can pick up the signal from FM or infrared transmitters directly (without having to put anything else in or over their ear) by wearing a neckloop receiver. This neckloop receiver will pick up the signal and send it directly to the hearing aid.
Those parishioners who need hearing assistance but don’t wear hearing aids can use headsets or earbuds which are connected to small pocket-sized receivers.
Still have questions about which ADA compliant hearing assistance systems are right for your house of worship? Email us or call our trained staff at 1-800-263-0112!