McCarter Theatre Center offered a headset utilizing infra-red technology available for those with hearing loss. The hearing equipment had been the most frequently used resource among their Access services programs including audio description, sign language described events, open captioning, and Braille/large print programs. The infra-red equipment began to show significant wear and need for repair due to such frequent usage.
Responding to the audience’s needs, McCarter is now offering access to new FM-based hearing assistance receivers with individual neckloops. In the past, systems had to rely on analog, line-of-sight transmission that could be blocked by an obstacle, including a tall person seated in front of you. The new FM-based hearing assistance receivers allow a clearer sound and a more realistic listening experience. It works well with existing t-coil hearing aid systems, and it’s overall a much better product. The 1,100-seat Matthews Theatre and the 360-seat Berlind Theatre have both been fully updated since the start of the 2015 – 2016 season.
The receivers are about the size of a cell phone, and can be used with your own earbuds or small earbuds available at McCarter. The neckloops and receiver are also compatible with each earpiece that uses induction, or T-coil technology. This new FM-based system, which is currently used for audio description, is lighter, less susceptible to environmental interference, and easier to use. A total of 96 individual sets have been acquired for use in both theaters.