Opera House Installs Closed Captioning, Assistive Listening

FREDONIA – In order to make events accessible to all of its patrons, the 1891 Fredonia Opera House recently completed installation of new closed captioning and assistive listening equipment for its digital cinema projection system. The system provides deaf and severely hearing impaired individuals the opportunity to enjoy movies presented as part of the Opera House Cinema Series, said Rick Davis, Opera House executive director.

Davis says that the closed captioning equipment utilizes special eyeglasses and a receiver worn around the neck to pick up closed captioning data digitally encoded in a movie’s soundtrack. The captions appear on the inside of the right or left eyeglass lens, visible only to the wearer.

“Now, our deaf patrons are able to enjoy all the great films in our Cinema Series,” he said.

The assistive listening equipment consists of headphones that amplify and focus the sound running through the projection system. Davis said it is ideal for anyone with a hearing loss that traditionally has trouble with the surround sound nature of movie theatres. “Even those with the most profound hearing loss have found these to be helpful.”

The assistive listening equipment not only work on movies in the Cinema Series, but also works on most of the live satellite and captured live events (such as Live at the Met and National Theatre Live) because the Opera House utilizes the audio portion of its digital cinema projection system for these events.

Davis noted that the Opera House has been working on this project since the digital cinema projection system was installed last summer.

“We actually purchased all of the equipment a year ago, but have run into various unanticipated issues such as the need to install 300 new feet of special audio cable from the projection booth up through the building’s attic and down onto the stage, among other things that delayed its installation. We’re so glad that it’s all finally in place and functioning,” he said.

Funding for the purchase of the new equipment came from Robert and Marilyn Maytum as part of the Opera House’s Maintain & Sustain Capital Campaign.

“This project was a part of our capital drive, which is still underway, having raised only slightly more than half of our $300,000 goal,” said Davis. “We’re very grateful to the Maytums for their contribution early in the campaign to fund this project.”

Additional funding to support the project and the equipment installation came from the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust and the Dunkirk-Fredonia Lions Club.

Patrons interested in utilizing the equipment should ask an Opera House staff member or usher at any Opera House event.

The 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported, nonprofit performing arts center located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. A complete schedule of Opera House events is available at www.fredopera.org.