Assistive Listening System Policy
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that "approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing. Hearing loss is one of the major disabilities and directly impacts the ability of individuals to participate in and enjoy community life.
As part of the Library’s efforts to be accessible for all members of the community, we are pleased to provide an assistive listening system in the Thornton Room. This system was purchased by the Friends of Brooks Free Library in (2012) and donated to Library. The assistive listening system uses receivers to bring sound from the microphone(s) directly to the users’ ears, magnifying the sound of the speaker and eliminating interference from background noise such as rustling papers and side conversations.
With very few exceptions, discussed below, the assistive listening system is to be used for all Library-sponsored programs, meetings and workshops that are held in the Thornton Room. This includes all programs, meetings or events organized, coordinated and paid for by the Library Trustees or staff members and the Friends of Brooks Free Library. Third-party performers or program presenters are to be informed of the requirement to use the assistive listening system when scheduling the program and this requirement is to be documented in the written contract between the Library/Friends and the presenter or performer.
Sufficient staffing is to be provided for all Library programs and events to enable the system to be operated and offered to participants. Staff members will follow the procedures outlined in the Brooks Free Library Procedure for Use of the Assistive Listening System, beginning with informing attendees before the program starts that we have an assistive listening system and how it provides more benefits than a traditional microphone system.
All library program publicity shall inform the public of the use of the assistive listening system, either by text or ALS universal symbol. Any mal-functioning of the system that would make it not available should be promptly reported and the Library’s online calendar should updated to indicate the assistive listening system will not be available for a particular program. If for any reason the two supplemental microphones are not available, the staff member will instruct the presenter or performer that he/she is to repeat any questions or comments from the audience before responding.
Non-library groups using the Thornton Room are invited to use the assistive listening system during their programs or activities. This should be arranged in advance so that the equipment can be checked out to the organization’s representative and a time can be scheduled for a staff member to provide training in the use of the system and Library procedures. Regular Thornton Room users may want to designate several staff members to receive the training, rather than relying on only one member, so that they’re able to provide the assistive listening system at every meeting. Please note that at any meeting or program, an attendee can request the assistive listening system be used, so regular users should be prepared to accommodate that request by having several members training in the use of the system and Library procedures.
Use of the Assistive Listening System may not be appropriate when there are multiple speakers, such as a dramatic reading, musical performance or play involving multiple performers. This exemption does not mean that the Assistive Listening System should not be used for book groups, writers groups, and Library-sponsored board meetings just because there will be group discussion. The group coordinator or Chairperson will wear the main (clip-on) microphone and the two supplemental microphones will be placed in other locations around the table. They are to be passed to each speaker. This procedure may seem awkward at first, but it ensures that all attendees are able to hear the discussion. It promotes civility, since only one person is speaking at a time and eliminates side conversations that can be difficult for everyone to hear and prevent everyone from benefitting from the discussion and participating in it.
The other exception from the requirement to use the assistive listening system is for activities where attendees are performing activities individually and not as a group, such as Knit-Lit or Engineering Challenges. Even in these cases, however, there are times when use of the assistive listening system is appropriate and must be used, such as when giving group instruction or an introduction to a topic. In those cases, the system is to be set up and used during the appropriate portion of the program or activity.