At an evening ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center unveiled a newly installed telecoil, or T-coil, compatible hearing loop in Thrivent Financial Hall, making it the first Broadway presenting theater in Wisconsin to offer the latest hearing loop technology.
A group of donors and accessibility advocates attended the event which offered the Center an opportunity to celebrate this latest improvement. Susan Stockton, president of the Fox Cities P.A.C., expressed appreciation for a surge of local support saying, “The Center’s accessibility services committee identified a need for a T-coil hearing loop, but it took a community effort for this project to take shape. So many local hearing care professionals have supported this initiative. I continue to be amazed by the generous support of our community, and we are thrilled to have this service available for the Center’s 10th Anniversary Season.”
So what does a new hearing loop mean for theatergoers with hearing loss? T-coil compatible hearing loops work with an individual’s hearing aids to create a fuller live performance experience.
“Imagine going to the theater and not being able to understand the dialogue,” said Dr. Juliëtte Sterkens, a local audiologist with Fox Valley Hearing Center, Inc. and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) hearing loop advocate. Sterkens has been involved with the Center’s accessibility committee since 2009 and played a key role in raising awareness of the T-coil hearing loop system and its potential to aid theatergoers with hearing loss.
“A common misconception," said Sterkens, "is that hearing aids restore normal hearing. Yes, hearing aids have greatly improved in the last decade, but they simply cannot overcome typical distances involved in theaters such as the Fox Cities P.A.C.” Sterkens explained that often, with hearing aids alone, sound becomes unclear in larger venues where speakers may be placed at a distance or the surroundings are noisy.
On Friday, August 17 and Saturday, August 18, the public is invited to test the Center’s new T-coil compatible hearing loop during a free 10th Anniversary Open House. The Center will offer a presentation on Friday at 4:00 p.m. in the Kimberly-Clark Theater which is also fitted with a T-coil compatible hearing loop. Festivities will include live entertainment, backstage tours, theater workshops and activities for all ages. A full schedule of events, including a Founders’ Panel discussion on Friday in Thrivent Financial Hall and a MAMMA MIA! Community Flash Mob on Saturday, can be found at foxcitiespac.com/ten.
The new T-coil hearing loop replaces the Center’s infrared listening system.Visitors in need of hearing assistance or whose hearing instruments are not T-coil equipped may check out complimentary lightweight headsets for hearing amplification at the Center’s information desk. Ticket agents are also available to answer questions about the Center’s hearing loop during regular business hours, in person at the Center’s ticket office or by phone at (920) 730-3760.
To learn more about the Center's new T-coil compatible hearing loop and other accessibility services, visit foxcitiespac.com.