April 10, 2020

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Big concerts may not be practical, but MTS Centre makes other events accessible to deaf

 Justin Bieber in concert at the MTS Centre in 2014.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Justin Bieber in concert at the MTS Centre in 2014.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/2/2017 (1160 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It may not be practical to have an ASL interpreter working in a dimly lit arena while a concert is going on, but the MTS Centre has taken steps to make other events more deaf-accessible.

"We have clients (Feld-Disney on Ice, for example) that we participate with to bring an (interpreter) to do ASL live in front of a predetermined section, and we send notification to the groups and associations to alert them to the opportunity to see the event with this assistance," said Kevin Donnelly, senior vice-president of venues and entertainment for True North, in an email to the Free Press.

True North has also partnered with the Manitoba Deaf Association in developing a service that allows deaf and hard-of-hearing attendees to use Wi-Fi-enabled tablets or smartphones to access closed captioning for audio projected from the PA system. So far, the service has been used for NHL Jets games, AHL Moose games and events such as We Day, but in theory, it could be used for any event that provides an audio feed to their PA.

"An analogue audio feed from our PA (public address system) is sent to a proprietary piece of hardware that converts this audio to a digital stream and routes it to the web," explains Rob Wozny, vice-president of communications and community engagement for True North.

"When we have a request for captioning, we secure a remote captioner, and they tap into this stream to hear the audio. The captioner enters what they hear into their computer, and this is fed back to a website (hosted by the same company as the hardware)," he continues. "The patron can log onto this website, free of charge, with either one of our iPads or their own mobile device and see the transcription of the PA audio."

Wozny notes there is very little delay from when the audio can be heard by the captioner to the time the caption appears on the device.

"We need a few days’ notice to book the service for the event or game, but this has been an offering for about two years now," adds Donnelly.

There are a handful of iPads available at the MTS Centre that attendees can reserve and sign out for free, or they can use their own smartphone or tablet to access the same service, run by National Captioning Canada.

Requests for the closed-captioning service can be made at the MTS Centre website, www.mtscentre.ca, or by calling the True North office at 204-987-7825.

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