Established in 1960, the Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom (FVJC) is a community of about 250+ families in Simsbury, Conn. Per a statement, FVJC is a warm, inclusive, intergenerational community that comes together for various events. These include worship services, Jewish learning, social events and social action initiatives designed to foster a sense of community and connection. To improve the audio systems and help those with hearing loss, FVJC thus utilized Listen EVERYWHERE from Bluffdale, Utah-based Listen Technologies.
The Hearing Challenge
During the Covid-19 global pandemic, the Temple began streaming worship services when the FVJC remained closed to members. Here, the team tuned the Temple’s audio system to optimize the audio for streaming services during that time. In 2021, as part of reopening the Temple for in-person worship services, FVJC recognized that it needed to expand the audio system as the audio settings for streaming were very different from the sanctuary.
The sanctuary audio settings were balanced for the grand piano and the sanctuary’s acoustics. However, audio settings for the sanctuary appeared somewhat overpowering for the streaming audio. Adding a four-port audio output card allowed independent audio tuning for streaming and the sanctuary. Additionally, the expansion of the audio system also provided an output for an assistive listening system. This would then benefit those with hearing loss and others in the FVJC community.
The Assistive Listening Solution
The Temple’s IT volunteer, Mark Orenstein, became involved in upgrading the audio systems in three town meeting/program rooms. This included two large program rooms in the Simsbury Library and the Eno Memorial Hall auditorium. As part of the town’s audio upgrades, Listen EVERYWHERE servers were installed as a twenty-first-century solution for assistive listening.
Consequently, the FVJC installed a Listen EVERYWHERE transmitter in its sanctuary. Here, seniors with hearing aids that support smartphone Bluetooth audio could then better participate in services. The system also benefits those without hearing aids, as congregants can download the app and access the audio as needed.
As a hearing aid user, Orenstein is an assistive technology advocate. He knows firsthand the difference assistive listening systems make for those with hearing loss. Mark is also familiar with the inconvenience of borrowing devices — from asking to borrow a device to having to return the device after worship services, a performance or a community meeting. This is why he advocated for the use of Listen EVERYWHERE. FVJC members can thus install the free Listen EVERYWHERE app on their smartphone, access the FVJC Wi-Fi network and access the audio from the service using their phones as the assistive listening receiver. Those with Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids or cochlear implants can access the audio directly from their phones.
“The new Listen EVERYWHERE assistive listening system was easy to install and has helped many FVJC members fully experience worship services and feel more included in their community. We love the solution and continue to promote its use to ensure everyone knows they can access the audio and feel included and welcome in FVJC worship services,” says Orenstein.
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