ALEXANDRIA — Audiences at the Andria Theater who wear hearing aids will soon be able to hear performances even better — thanks in part to the Alexandria Sertoma club.

Last week, technicians from Midwest Hearing Loops installed a hearing loop system in the theater in downtown Alexandria.

“This system has been on Andria’s list of projects for several years,” said Ann Hermes, executive director of Andria Theater. “Sertoma member Brooke Steinbring wrote a grant for the loop system and it was accepted for $2,000. purchase and installation of the system. »

The state-of-the-art system, which costs around $15,000, delivers sound directly to WiFi-enabled hearing aids.

“It’s so smooth and it will be a game changer for the hearing impaired population,” Hermes said.

Rick Korinek, vice president of St. Paul-based Midwest Hearing Loops, said the Hearing Loop system was placed around each seating section of the Andria Theater. Part of the system is a flat copper tape laid on the ground. The copper tape, which is coated, provides a wireless inductive signal that is picked up by a hearing aid when the hearing aid is turned to the “Telecoil” or “T-Coil” setting.

The loop system, according to the Midwest Hearing Loops website, consists of a microphone to pick up speech, a loop amplifier that processes the signal, and the loop conductors, which is the copper wire.

Flat copper wire is part of the Hearing Loops system. It was placed on the floor of the Andria Theater around each seating section. The copper wire provides a wireless inductive signal that is picked up by a hearing aid when it is set to the “Telecoil” or “T-Coil” setting.

Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Korinek said that when a hearing aid is placed in the T-Coil setting, it uses less battery and no additional devices are needed for those with hearing aids when the hearing loop system is used.

“People can hear directly from their hearing aids,” he said. “He takes the audio and puts it straight through their prescription. With the hearing loop system, it keeps people in the conversation. »

Hearing loops can be installed in any place where there is speech, Korinek said, whether it’s a conference room, a church, an amphitheater, a theatre, an auditorium or even an airport. About a third of Midwest Hearing Loops customers are churches, he noted.

“People came back to their church once they found out a hearing loop system had been installed,” Korinek said.

The Midwest Hearing Loops website noted that the system provides an excellent listening experience – a direct connection between the hearing aids and the sound source.

Steinbring noted that after Hermes presented information to Sertoma about the hearing loop system, the board members felt it was something they wanted to help.

“Our Sertoma Club’s mission is to improve the quality of life today for those at risk of or affected by hearing loss through education and support in the Alexandria area,” said Steinbring. “We felt that this project corresponded to our mission.

She explained that the board members had thought of different ways to help raise money for the project, given that the club had not been able to organize a fundraiser for the past two years due to of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Andria Theater Executive Director Ann Hermes, third from left, receives a donation for the new Hearing Loops system, from members of the Alexandria Sertoma club, including, left to right, Ron Helgeson, Don Johnson, Mickey Larson, Brooke Steinbring and Scott Taquin.

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“When I heard about the Sertoma Inc. community grant, I knew right away that it could have a huge impact on our goals. I submitted the grant and we received $2,000, the award maximum,” Steinbring explained. “We were all thrilled! Since the theater received those dollars through the ‘Give to the Max’ campaign, those dollars have been doubled thanks to a matching donor.”

Steinbring also noted that the club is excited to be able to wrap up its fundraising efforts with an event taking place in April. Sertoma is hosting a Coach Purse Bingo on April 3 at the VFW in Alexandria. Details can be found on Sertoma’s Facebook page.

“I love the Andria Theater and to be able to be a part of something that will enhance the theater experience for the hearing impaired is very heartwarming,” Steinbring said.