BUCKSPORT — Northeast Historic Film (NHF), which operates the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport is happy to announce the receipt of a $6,000 grant from the Hancock County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. The grant will match a $12,000 gift from an anonymous donor and provides enough funding to install a hearing loop in the Alamo Theatre. Hearing loops bring sound directly and discretely into a listeners’ telecoil-enabled hearing aids or cochlear implant — improving clarity and understanding. No headsets or other equipment is required.
“We want the Alamo Theatre to be a community center that works for all residents and visitors. We are proud to be handicapped accessible and do our best to provide a safe and welcoming atmosphere for everyone,” said Theatre Manager Jane Donnell.
Although the Alamo has an infrared system to provide sound to headsets that is free and available to patrons, the headsets have serious shortcomings for many people with hearing impairments. For example, they only amplify the sound without providing any EQ adjustments and because of the amplification they do not work with hearing aids which also amplify sound, which is ironic and frustrating. Donnell explains, “If one is hard of hearing, but does not have hearing aids, the infrared system and headsets are very helpful and because of that we will continue to make the option available. Most people with hearing impairments DO have hearing aids, however, so the loop system will be a major positive step.”
“We are grateful to the Hancock County Fund for this grant and to the generosity of the anonymous patron, who patiently explained why this was the best technology and then backed up his belief with his checkbook,” said Executive Director David Weiss. “As a community gathering place we feel it is important to be as inclusive as possible. People with hearing impairments, particularly the elderly, may withdraw if they have difficulty understanding a movie or following a discussion. Disengagement raises the risk of their becoming socially isolated and we all lose the benefit of their participation.”
Although the Alamo is currently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the funding in hand, the work is being scheduled. “It is sad to have the theatre closed, but the installation would have forced us to close for two weeks in normal times, so I suppose it’s a bit of a silver lining,” concluded Donnell.