What is an ALD? And why have people been wearing headphones during Worship?

Contributed by Henry Wynands

During the last several weeks you may have noticed people using headphones or ear buds during the worship service. Surely they weren’t listening to their favorite music during worship, were they?

No, headphone users are simply worshipers who want to hear better. They are tuning in using an ALD, an Assistive Listening Device.

The ALD is really an FM receiver that allows users to hear the signal directly from the audio system, bypassing the audio speakers in the Sanctuary. The output of the amplifier/mixer in the PA system is broadcast by the FM transmitter to all the FM receivers. The user then hears the signal through headphones or earbuds plugged into the receiver, or through their hearing aids directly if they have a T-Coil antenna. Our system is designed to be usable by anyone who wants to hear better: people with or without hearing aids, including T-Coil users. The entire system is sometimes called an ALS - Assistive Listening System.

Potential ALD users should simply find their way to the WRPC coatroom before worship. Someone there should be able demonstrate the operation of the receiver; it is simple. And if no one is there to help, you can simply start pushing buttons on the receiver until something happens on the display.
1. Turn on receiver (small button on the top).
2. Insert the cable from the headset into the audio jack (there are two jacks on the top, both work).
3. Adjust the volume with the buttons on the front (the volume defaults to 25% each time the receiver is turned on).

The biggest decision relates to the type of headset to use:

- Headphones – this is the traditional type, with the strap over the head
- Behind the neck headphones – the strap on these goes behind the neck, then speaker ‘pads’ go over the ears
- Earbuds – stereo or mono
- Ear speaker – this has a similar ‘speaker pad’ to the behind the neck headphones, but this is one sided and has a small loop that is worn over the outer ear. This is a good option for those who don’t like ear buds but want something smaller than traditional headphones.

We do have examples of each type, but many of the ones we have used in the last several weeks were returned to the Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church (we borrowed their portable system). We are hoping that regular users can supply their own headset, once they determine what type that is.

How has this been funded? The FM transmitter has been in place for a long time. The new set of receivers was purchased using the $1100 donated over the years to the Hearing Aid restricted fund. Other pieces have been donated (neck loops and some headsets). Over time we will likely need more receivers, a tray charger, and a transmitter for the Fellowship Hall.

The new receivers are redesigned and take advantage of much of the technology developed for the smartphone: they are smaller, have better batteries (Li-ion), are configurable using micro-USB cables, and have brighter displays than older receivers. The biggest performance boost is the much improved neck loop used for T-coils hearing aids or cochlear implants.

So, if you want to hear better during Worship, try an ALD. We hope to have some “fitting sessions” in the parlor during which users can test the receivers with different types of headsets. Fitting sessions will allow more time - more than the few minutes before worship - for users to test and fit the pieces to suit their individual needs.

Stay tuned WRPC!

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