St. John’s Cathedral on Washington Street has welcomed worshipers in Denver for more than a century. It’s most recent addition will ensure all its members get the most out of its services.
“St. John's is a visually beautiful place, but also, this is a place of stories, prayers and music and organs,” said Richard Lawson, the Dean of St. John’s Cathedral. “Hearing is as essential as seeing.”
Like many congregations, St. John’s has members suffering from hearing loss. Some wear hearing aids. Dean Lawson said at least one member of the parish wears a cochlear implant.
This week, Colorado-based Assist2Hear installed a hearing loop.
“The hearing loop is effectively a copper wire,” said Erin Nichols with Assist2Hear. “That copper wire is going to amplify sound using magnetic induction that will communicate with the hearing aid when it's in its telecoil program. I would equate it to putting on your [noise canceling] headphones. You get that magnificent sound where you don't have any background noise or echo reverberations, it's just the audio, clear and crisp.”
The hearing loop is connected to St. John’s audio system. The copper wires were inlaid into aisles surrounding the pews. That required Nichols’ team to use a saw to cut grooves into the floor of the century-old church.
“We really did a lot of planning,” said Nichols. “We bought some special tools to make sure there was no dust in the air. We have a special vacuum system as well to minimize any dust.”
Nichols said her team had to be mindful of the dust. If it got into the pipes of the cathedral’s organ, it could adversely affect the sound. They also had to restore the floors once the copper wiring was installed.
“We have to hide wire, we have to damage people's decor then restore it like we were never there. This one, the historic nature definitely was a nail-biter,” said Nichols.
“This technology puts everyone on equal footing,” said Dean Lawson. “This is just the next step in our evolution in terms of being more inclusive and using technology in this very traditional place.”
The Dean also said he believes this new technology will attract new parishioners to St. John’s Cathedral.
He said they hope to launch the hearing loop system on Sept. 9, which happens to be the Feast of St. John.