How-To Use Assistive Listening Devices for Translation

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There’s been a lot of talk about assistive listening systems in houses of worship, particularly when it comes to what your facility is legally required to provide by law (Assistive Listening and the Law, TFWM, March 2015).  Having an assistive listening system in place ensures that all your congregants have an opportunity to fully participate in worship, hear the message, and remain a vital part of your church community. However, listening assistive systems can be used for more than just helping your congregants with hearing loss; they can also be used for translation services – and, as the country continues to grow more multi-cultural, this use will become more important.

What would it mean for your facility if you could offer real-time translation of your pastor’s message for the non-English speaking members of your congregation?  For example, if you have a high-percentage of Spanish-speaking congregants, having someone who can translate the message and transmit that translation to them via an assistive listening device allows them to participate more fully in worship, and shows them that they are a valued member of your church community.

Many devices offer multiple channels and programmable receivers, so you could run both translation and assistive listening at the same time – just let your guests know what the channel assignment is for their specific need.

For example, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles not only offers assistive listening during worship, but also uses their devices for translation services in their center for culture and exchange, which regularly holds conferences and meetings. They use Listen Technology’s ListenRF, and run 57 channels and programmable receivers, so guests can easily select the channel assigned to the language they want.

Featuring a campus over 64,000 square feet, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is also a tourist destination, with people from all over the world visiting the campus to experience the unique architecture and priceless artwork on display.  For these tour groups, the Cathedral also used Listen’s LT-700 Portable Transmitter. Individual receivers allow multiple-language tour groups to visit the facility with ease.

Your worship community is made of many different people, from different backgrounds, with different needs and, in some cases, speaking different languages. Using your existing assistive listening devices to translate worship into a second language (or even multiple languages, if you have the need and your system supports different channels) allows all members to fully participate in worship.  With interpretation, the nuances of language aren’t lost on those who don’t speak the language, making the worship experience richer.

If your HoW is home to more than one language, perhaps translation is a viable way to make sure all your congregants are included.  This is something assistive listening devices do for those who experience hearing loss; why not make them work the same way for those speaking a second language?

The above video offers a tour of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles, CA, which uses assistive listening devices for translation of services, tours and conferences taking place at the facility.