Spectrum Theater at Grand Rapids Community College is expanding accessibility services with the installation of a new hearing loop system that will debut for the public during a free showing of “Snow White: The Queen’s Fair Daughter” by Max Bush at 7 p.m. on Sat., June 30 at Spectrum Theater.
The newly installed hearing loop system is designed to transmit the audio sound from the stage directly to the hearing aid of a person who is listening in the theater. This gives audience members with hearing challenges a better chance to enjoy the performances on stage.
“In a big auditorium there might be someone on stage and somebody with a hearing aid and the aid helps in some situations, but it doesn’t necessarily help in those situations when you’re in a big room and the voice is a long ways away,” said Sarah Rose, program director of GRCC’s Disability Support Services. “So basically (the hearing loop system) transmits that sound or that person’s voice more directly into the hearing aid and then it kind of reduces the background noise that might be getting in the way of people hearing and essentially helps amplify the sound that’s happening on stage.”
There are two other spaces on campus that already house a hearing loop system and Spectrum Theater is the newest addition to the spaces on campus with the technology.
“The technology has been around for a little while,” Rose said. “We have a hearing loop in the ATC Auditorium and there’s one that’s now in our music building performance area. They are on campus, but it’s a pretty substantial investment so it’s one of those things that as we can we’ll add those kinds of things to the big rooms.”
The hearing loop system was donated by Quota International of Grand Rapids, a Grand-Rapids-based volunteer organization that provides services and funding to the deaf and hard of hearing in West Michigan, in memory of their lifelong member Eleanor Roberts.
“We were excited to hear about the project as Quota’s mission is to improve communication for the deaf and hard of hearing,” said Sue Scharf, president of Quota International of Grand Rapids, in a press release. “Eleanor was passionate about helping the deaf community, and she also loved theatre. We thought the Spectrum Theater project would be a perfect memorial for her.”
Rose is grateful for the donation by Quota International and Scharf’s support.
“I want to thank the president of Quota International who has really been on board with helping us with all of this,” Rose said.
The performance of “Snow White: The Queen’s Fair Daughter” by Max Bush is presented by Circle Theatre in collaboration with Spectrum Theater, GRCC Disability Support Services and Quota International.
“We have a bunch of different theatre groups that use the Spectrum Theater,” Rose said. “That’s, I think, the exciting part. It’s a theater that’s used by the community in addition to students, staff and GRCC. So it’s really a partnership between GRCC, the disability services offices here, our Spectrum Theater here as well as Circle Theatre and Quota International, so it’s kind of a cool collaboration.”
Tickets are available to the public for free and can be reserved by phone at (616) 805-4381 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To reserve tickets, include a name for the reservation, the number of tickets requested and contact information. In addition to the hearing loop system, ASL interpreters will also be in attendance during the performance. For more information on GRCC’s Disability Support Services visit their page on GRCC’s website.