Hearing loss no longer a barrier to attending theatre

Casual Day ambassador Simone Botha
Casual Day ambassador Simone Botha

Capetonians with hearing loss can now enjoy theatre events to the full, thanks to the installation of an induction loop system at the Metronome Theatre in the Nobel Shopping Centre in Bellville. This system supports someone who uses technology like a loop receiver or hearing aids with a telecoil function, to hear sounds induced directly into these devices, bringing them the clearest sound possible.

Local artist and owner of the Metronome, Alwena van der Vyfer, has taken action to see that persons with hearing loss are included in events hosted there. ‘It has always been my dream to establish a music and drama training facility with a theatre to the benefit of everyone in the community, so ensuring it is accessible for persons with disabilities, is of the utmost importance,’ she says.

The Association for Hearing Loss Accessibility and Development (AHLAD) is partnering with the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in SA (NCPPDSA) launched the loop system during a Jannie du Toit concert last week at the Metronome. Jannie, a long-time campaigner for persons with disabilities, took the opportunity to buy his Casual Day sticker, the first person to do so for the 2015 campaign.

Jannie du Toit gets first Casual Day sticker.
Jannie du Toit gets first Casual Day sticker.

Casual Day ambassador and member of the executive committee of AHLAD, Simoné Botha says ‘Our mission at AHLAD is to create awareness of persons with hearing loss – and to assist in bringing technological advancements which can more fully include them, to the forefront. The induction loop system is such an advancement and we applaud the theatre for taking the first step towards making the theatre more accessible to everyone.’

A professional ballet dancer, Botha was born profoundly deaf and received a cochlear implant allowing her to learn to speak and communicate with the hearing world.

AHLAD chairman Michele Tonks, who is the mom of a young adult with hearing loss, notes that ‘Few people realize that though there are people who use South African Sign Language to communicate, the majority of South Africans with hearing loss rely on speech to interact.

NCPPDSA director Therina Wentzel encourages persons with disabilities to come forward for guidance on making sure that local theatres, places of worship, schools and more, become accessible. The community can also look forward to the official launch of the availability of the loop system at the Metronome on 7 June, when Van Der Vyfer’s production Hallelujas in my Hangkas will be featured.

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