|Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Kiel has installed the Audio Frequency Induction Loop System (AFILS) to work with the existing sound system. The loop wiring acts as a transmitter to help the hearing impaired hear the service much better.|
Sabrina Nucciarone photo
By Sabrina NucciaronePsalm 98 encourages Christian believers to "shout joyfully" unto the Lord.
TC News correspondent
For those people who need to wear a hearing aid or strain to hear the people speaking from the altar, however, they might not be able to fully appreciate the service or follow along.
For parishioners at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Kiel-a church that is over 150 years old-that is changing.
A technological system called Audio Induction Loop Technology, or hearing loop, has been available in the United Kingdom for years but has been slow to gain momentum in the U.S. Though available in some areas, like locales in California and Michigan, the Fox Valley was the closest place in Wisconsin where the technology has been installed in a church setting. Known as the little city that does big things, on Saturday, Sept. 18, the hearing loop technology went live in Kiel.
When a parishioner came to Joe Zenk, SS. Peter and Paul's parish director, early in summer wanting to provide a proactive memorial, there were some thoughts on how the gift could best serve an underrepresented portion of the congregation.
Living up to its credo
Examining the credo written just inside the parish front doors, "All are welcome in this place," Zenk realized that the church might not have been living up to its own pronouncement or expectations where the hearing impaired are concerned.
"What we are trying to do is live up to that saying. Worship is to give oneself over to God and the community and to participate in the action that is taking place," Zenk said. With the church playing an active role in youth and adult programs, providing a means by which those with a hearing impairment was one way to allow individuals to be more interactive in their faith-if they could find a service provider to install the hearing loop.
When the gift was made, Zenk attempted to contact at least two companies which might or might not have known about the technology, just to inquire to see if it were possible. One company in Oshkosh said Kiel was too far away to service, and from the other company in Kimberly, Zenk did not receive a return phone call. During the time spent waiting, several weeks passed before he attempted to call again. On the very day he wanted to call the company back, he went into a meeting before doing so. While in the meeting, Dave Scroggins of DRS Sound & Lights Inc. (www.DRSsound.Com) in Kiel came to the church to drop off some literature and explain this new service his company was now offering and if they would consider having it installed.
The timing was more than serendipitous. "It was part of the miracle of it all," Zenk said.
Supporting a local business
As a sound professional in the area, Scroggins was familiar with the technology and as a service provider, his company is local. For the church, Zenk said supporting a local business is the partnership for which they prayed.
The installation required DRS Sound to design and "loop" the worship area of the church with wiring and special equipment which enables the Audio Frequency Induction Loop System (AFILS) to work with the existing sound system. The loop wiring acts as a transmitter, creating an electromagnetic field that is turned into audible sound within a hearing aid equipped with a Telecoil, or T-coil, switch or for people without a hearing aid a portable induction loop receiver which resembles a small transistor radio with headphones or ear buds.
For hearing aids with the T-coil switch, the microphone of the hearing aid is turned off and the hearing aid acts as a speaker system, allowing the person to hear what is being said directly into the speaker's microphone and reducing transient background noise. The church also has three pocket receivers which can be borrowed during the Mass or arrangements can be made to purchase one of your own. You may bring your own ear-bud speakers or the church can supply the headset with the receiver.
"It plugs you directly into the sound system, like a speaker. You walk in the doors and the minute you walk in the door, you are in the loop or coverage area-anywhere in the worship area you are able to move freely and yet hear what ever is coming out of the sound system delivered right to your ears. Now they can hear the homily and the music. This is a way that people can participate fully in the action of the community and the action of God," Zenk said.
(Please see the October 7 issue of the Tri-County News for more on this story.)