Greenville’s Performing Arts Center to receive upgrade for hearing-impaired

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 7:04 pm on Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Greenville Performing Arts Center Director of Technology and Auditorium Manager Chris Chapman shows the Greenville Public Schools Board of Education what current devices for the hearing-impaired look like. (Daily News/Kelli Ameling)

GREENVILLE – Greenville Public Schools will receive a gift of $13,000 from a resident to install a new system for the hearing-impaired at the Performing Arts Center.

The Greenville Public Schools Board of Education accepted the gift during Monday night’s meeting.

Greenville resident Paul Warnshuis approached Superintendent Pete Haines and expressed his concern about not being able to hear properly when attending events at the Performing Arts Center.

Currently, the center has devices it rents out to people who are hearing-impaired.  According to Chris Chapman, director of technology and auditorium manager, the devices are little audio boxes that come with ear buds and are run off an AM frequency. Patrons have to take out their hearing aids to be able to listen.

“They are very uncomfortable and don’t really help,” Chapman said, adding that only a very few have been checked out because of this.

Haines said he is worried patrons are not coming to events at the Performing Arts Center because there is not a good system in place to help them hear.

The new system will help those with hearing aids that have T-Coils. The auditorium will have a hearing loop installed so people that are hearing impaired will be able to turn on their T-Coils and be able to listen to the events much clearer.

The installation of the loop for the T-Coil system is $13,000, which Haines said Warnshuis is donating to the school to see the project happen.

“This is a very significant upgrade to the facility,” Chapman said. “The current bids are fairly steep.”

Due to the layout of the auditorium, the loop will not include rows L and X, the last rows in the bottom and upper seating bowls.

Chapman said there is possibility the system could still work in those rows, but the company cannot 100 percent guarantee it. There are other options available for patrons in those rows if this new system does not work.

The installation of the system will take between three and five days. Chapman said he hopes to have it installed by performances beginning in March.

Board of Education Secretary Ronald Billmeier asked Chapman about people who do not have T-Coil hearing aids.

Chapman said the old devices will still be available for those who want them.

In other business…
The board approved
* Revisions on policies including dress code and school district elections.
* Supporting the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District’s special education millage proposal.
* A new auditor’s contract for the district’s annual 2011-2012 audit.
* Accepting the superintendent’s mid-year evaluation summary.

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