Good News!  We now have the technology to assist those dancer who may have difficulty in hearing.  This will enable them to hear all the calls and cues while square or round dancing with complete freedom of movement and no background noise.

This subject and the equipment may be referred to using a variety of terms.  These include:
   • sound enhancement;
   • hearing enhancement; or
   • assistive listening/hearing devices (ALD's).

What is Sound Enhancement / Hearing Enhancement?
This is the use of existing technology to provide pure sound  from the caller/cuer's PA system to the dancer without any outside noise or distortion.  This can enable dancers to hear better than others in the hall.  One can dance at the back of the hall and hear as well as those directly in front of a speaker.  It is similar to wearing glasses, when it becomes hard to see!

Hearing is made difficult as a result of a number of factors:
   • large halls, major dances and conventions
   • hall acoustics
   • PA system settings (volume, tone settings)
   • speaker placement
   • distance between the speaker and the dancer
   • ambient background noises i.e. shuffling feet, clapping hands, talking, fans, etc.
   • dancers own hearing ability

The system consists of a transmitter and receivers.  The transmitter is connected to the caller/leader's turntable/amplifier and sends out a radio signal.  The second part is a small receiver (2"x3") that is worn by the dancer clipped on a belt or placed in a pocket.  Sound is routed from the receiver to the dancer's ear by a cord.  The sound is delivered to the ear through an earplug, personal earpiece, headphones, etc.  The receiver has its own  individual volume control that can be set to suit the dancer.  Dancers have complete freedom of movement and can "Wheel and Deal" without a hitch.  There are NO limits to the number of receivers that can be used to receive the sound signal from one transmitter.  The dancer wears the associated hearing equipment that enables them to listen to the pure sound.  This can be by using:
   • single ear bud (in good ear)
   • double ear bud (one in each ear)
   • headphone (walkman-like headphones, but for mono sound)
   • neckloop (used for those with hearing aids with a telephone or T-switch).

Why use it?
The system enables the dancer to hear the sound of the calls/cues and associated music directly, as if they were standing beside the caller/cuer and with no background noise.  Imagine, no more excuses for not hearing the call/cue!  Dancers having difficulty in performing movements may not be able to hear the instructions - they may benefit from the use of sound enhancement equipment.

Use of this equipment can enable people:
   • with hearing difficulties to dance longer;
   • to continue and not drop out when they are unable to hear the calls/cues;
   • who think they would be unable to hear to start to dance;
   • who are older and reluctant to return the activity; and
   • who do not attend large dance because they won't be able to hear in a crowd.

Hearing Aids may not be the solution
Hearing aids amplify all the background room sounds in addition to music and the voice of the caller/cuer.

Callers/leaders teaching seniors may find the acquisition and availability of this S.E. equipment an asset in attracting both new and former dancers.

Fact  -  Over 50 % of people over the age of 50 have a significant hearing loss.

Types of Equipment
Hearing enhancement equipment can use a variety of different types of equipment and use different signals:
   • Hard-wired  -  not applicable to our activity;
   • Audio induction loop - permanently installed wires around a room - not complimentary to our activity;
   • Infra red  - a line of sight signal and not applicable to our dancing activity; and
   • FM radio signal - excellent sound quality, not easily obstructed by walls, posts, sunlight, dancer
     movement or fluorescent lights and has a range of 300-400 feet.
               -  wideband  - the frequencies adopted for use in the square/round dance activity
               -  narrowband  - used for public hearing signal and not compatible with the square dance
                                            frequency    Manufacturers include Phonic Ear,

Sources and costs
There are several manufacturers of wideband sound/hearing enhancement equipment used by the square/round dance activity.  These include:  Williams Sound,   TelexGentnerMicrovox byPhonakSennheiser   and others.

Dancers are urged to obtain a trial use of the equipment and seek the input from other users of these systems.

Some receivers have a single channel and other have 4 or 6 channels.  Some single channel receivers can be tuned easily to other frequencies used by the activity as well as the public narrow band frequency (see below).  In addition, check to ensure the receivers will hold their frequencyand are readily serviced.

To assess your individual needs, obtain a copy of a listing of the facilities offering public hearing enhancement in your area.  You may be able to use this receiver at many other public facilities and locations.

Try out the sound enhancement equipment available in your area! Contact local suppliers.

Public frequency for hearing enhancement/assistive listening devices in Canada and the US is 75.675 MHz or Channel 26.  This is the frequency used in some public buildings, churches,theaters, movies, municipal buildings, etc.

Some receivers have the ability to be adjusted by dancers to receive the narrowband public sound enhancement frequency.  This ability may be a consideration by dancers in determining the receiver they may wish to acquire.

Square / Round Dance Frequencies
The Canadian and US governments have designated frequencies 72-76MHZ for use for Hearing Assistance Transmitters/ Receivers.

Callerlab, The International Association of Square Dance Callers has designated the following wideband frequencies for use as part of the square dance activity.  These have been readilyaccepted and used in Canada.
 • primary frequency   - 72.9 MHz; and
• secondary frequency  - 72.1 MHz.

Watch for the symbol/sign identifying the availability of the sound enhancement equipment at dances. 

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