I agree with Mr. Richard Einhorn (see related story in The New York Times) that looping technology makes a huge difference. I too had the pleasure of attending the performance of Wicked at the Kennedy Center in June, 2011, along with 600 other HLAA members and was grateful for and very impressed by this unique, exciting occasion that provided multiple forms of hearing accessibility, including assistive listening systems, audio loops, CART and sign language interpreters all together, something I don't think I or any other member of the audience has experienced before at the Kennedy Center or any other theater performance. I have experienced multiple forms of access at the Center for Hearing and Communication Annual Meeting and understand that at last month's Feast, CHC used looping, CART, an assistive listening system and sign language interpreters to make the event fully accessible.
I have a profound bilateral hearing loss, have been wearing hearing aids for 45 years and live in New York City where I am fortunate to have regular access to captioned shows, so captioning was not new to me. What was new was being able to use a loop and CART together at the theater. The experience of reading the captions and hearing the dialogue through my hearing aids without an assistive listening system was one I hope to be able to repeat often. For the first time, I did not miss anything! Other members of the audience enjoyed and took full advantage of the multiple forms of access too.
The performance of Wicked was arranged for and presented by the Hearing Loss Association of America and the Accessibility Office at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with accommodations provided by c2, Inc., Sound Associates, and Ampetronic. If you want more details about various forms of access, please contact the organization or supplier. For information about captioned theater performances in New York contact TDF/TAP.
For information about how to advocate for accessibility in your community, contact HLAA or visit a local HLAA Chapter.
Many thanks to everyone who made this once-in-a-lifetime experience possible for me and the entire audience.
Ruth D. Bernstein
Member, Manhattan Chapter HLAA