Thursday, April 13, 2017

Strand receives grant from Bangor Savings Bank Foundation for assistive listening devices

ROCKLAND, Maine - The Strand Theatre, 345 Main Street, recently received a grant award of $2,000  from the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation to help the theater purchase assistive listening devices.

Visual-impairment assist technology provides audio description, transmitted to users through infrared wireless headsets, enabling individuals who are blind or have low vision to enjoy films by providing a spoken narration of key visual elements of a film, such as actions, settings, facial expressions, costumes, and scene changes. Audio description fills in information about the visual content of a movie where there are no corresponding audio elements in the film.

The technology upgrade is in response to a recent Justice Department proposal to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to require movie theaters to provide closed movie captioning and audio description in order to give persons with hearing and vision disabilities access to movies. The proposed ADA requirements allow for exemptions from compliance based on theater size and annual income, under which category the Strand Theatre would fall. However, Executive Director Jessie Davis wants the Strand to meet those new standards. “We believe that these technologies promote equity, human dignity, and fairness and it is essential for us to offer these enhancements in order to best serve all our current and future patrons,” according to Davis.

It is estimated there are more than 53,000 visually/hearing-impaired adults living in Maine. In addition, Maine has the oldest population in the country. “Our audience is aligned with this statewide trend, so we will only see the need for closed captioning and visual-impairment assist technology grow,” Davis says.  “It is important that the Strand be a place of inclusivity within the community, which is why this accessibility project is a priority for our organization.”

Photo: Strand Executive Director Jessie Davis (R) receives a check from Bangor Savings Bank Branch Manager Corey Belcher (L)

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