Hearing Loss Association Receives Selby Foundation Grant

Hearing Loss Association receives Selby Foundation grant to "Loop" 10 theatres, the expected "tipping point" to make Sarasota, Venice and Bradenton, America's First Hearing-Friendly Cities.

The William G. & Marie Selby Foundation has approved a $72,457 grant proposal submitted by the Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota to provide hearing loop systems for 10 performing arts halls in the two counties. The hearing loop is the only system that sends clear, clean and interference-free sound from the stage's microphone directly into the hearing aids or cochlear implants of the hearing impaired in the audience.

The 10 theatres includes 13 stages, which will receive the grant: Asolo Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre (Keating), Florida Studio Theatre (Gompretz), Manatee Player's Theatre, Neel Performing Arts Center (Main), Neel Performing Arts Center (Pinkerton), Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Orchestra, The Player's Theatre, Venice Community Center, Venice Theatre (Main), Venice Theatre (Pinkerton) and the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.

Each stage will receive a hearing loop system that transmits the sounds of the performance through an amplifier and induction loop to any hearing aid or cochlear with a T-coil, which is a tiny wireless receiver. Virtually all new hearing aids, and some 75% in use today, are equipped with a T-coil. Each theatre will also receive a box office loop system and 5 loop receivers that hearing loss individuals without T-coils or hearing aids can use to access the loop system.

Dr. Sarah H. Pappas, President of the Selby Foundation, said "we were extremely pleased to fund this endeavor as it empowers people with hearing disabilities to enjoy theatre again, while helping to sustain our healthy, vibrant arts community".

The hearing loop was pioneered in Europe, where it is now prevalent in many cities. Edward F. Ogiba, President of the Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota, which has been advocating the system through its "Let's Loop SRQ!" campaign pointed out "it was the European theatres that first generated awareness for the loop opportunity by attracting those with hearing loss back to performances again. Churches soon followed, prompting many businesses and organizations to follow. No city had all its' major local theatres looped so quickly and we are confident that this generous gift by the Selby Foundation will provide the same tipping point to make Sarasota, Venice and Bradenton each become one of the first hearing-friendly cities in America".

About the Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota (HLAS)

HLAS, a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization, is the local chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). HLAS helps people with hearing loss through education, mentoring, advocacy and community support. HLAS has monthly meetings, which feature an expert speaker and are open to everyone in the community seeking ways to deal with hearing loss. HLAS also has a Young Hearing Group for young adults that meet quarterly. For more information, please visit www.hlas.org or call 941-706-4312.



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