Underwater No More

SALT LAKE CIT, UT-The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher has brought on board a Listen Technologies portable FM system to enrich the visitor experience, especially for the hard of hearing and Spanish-speaking patrons. The aquarium uses the portable audio transmitter and receivers for assistive listening during their interactive aquatic programs, for tours with seniors, and for language interpretation with the Hispanic members of their community.

"Our patrons love the products," aquarium educator Jackie Harris said. "They are so simple to use and require little to no instruction. The ear speakers are particularly helpful with our senior visitors because they fit right over their hearing aids."

The aquarium proactively worked with the state's Division for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing on ways to make the aquarium more inviting to people with hearing, visual, and language barriers. The flagship event in this effort is Deaf Awareness Day, which Harris said has everything focused toward guests with hearing problems. They have expanded their efforts to include a variety of technologies and accommodations to aid the visually impaired as well as Spanish-speaking guests.

Harris explained that a bi-lingual staff member provides the simultaneous interpretation using the Listen system for tours and programs to provide access to Spanish-speaking visitors. The interpreter speaks into the microphone attached to the LT-700 portable FM transmitter, which sends out an FM signal received by the LR-400 portable FM receivers. The guests listen through the earphones plugged into the receivers.

Listen vice president of sales and marketing Cory Schaeffer said, "The North Carolina Aquarium is really making the most of their technology investment by utilizing the products for a variety of activities. We are proud to be selected by such a forward-thinking organization."