Listening Better, Hearing More

From Visitor Services Coordinator Talia Makowsky. To read more posts from Talia, click here.

Assisted Listening Devices at the Jewish Museum of Maryland

If you’re an avid museum goer you’ve probably encountered something similar. A small device that hangs around the neck with headphones attached. Maybe you type a number and a narration plays, explaining a painting. It might have helped enhance a live program. A tour guide might have used it to amplify their voice to the group of people following them. Many cultural sites have some kind of device to help their guests to hear the content they’re trying to communicate.

The Jewish Museum is pleased to announce that we have similar devices as well! Our assistive listening devices, or ALDs will transmit a leader’s voice to anyone wearing a corresponding device. This can be used on our public tours, during private group tours of the neighborhood, or even in public programs. We know that one challenge of our current lecture space is the way noise resonates, and we want to make all of our Museum programs more accessible. That’s why we’re happy to share this announcement and give you some information about how these devices work.

It’s fun to try out new technology!

These devices are designed to support people with hearing loss or who are hard-of-hearing. However, they can be used by any guest who chooses to wear the device and headphones. Using the devices on a tour enhances a visitor’s focus, allows the docent to speak without yelling, and makes it easier for a group leader to communicate when there’s other guests around.

During a tour, the docent will wear the leader unit, which will communicate through the guests’ devices. The units use a mobile connection, instead of radio channels, so a tour would not be interrupted by any local communication. The devices also allow guests to hear the tour guide over ambient noise, such as cars when we do neighborhood walking tours.

These devices work great with a large group. We can accommodate up to 30 people at one time!

Our units come with over-the-ear headphones that have built in microphones. This way guests can not only hear the leader as they give a tour, but by pressing a button, can ask questions that the whole group can hear. In addition, the units are compatible with most current headphones and earbuds, so guests can choose to use their own for comfort. Just make sure you ask the docent how to speak into the device microphone when you have any questions!

These devices allow groups to have great discussions while on tour.

Along with enhancing our tour experience, these devices will be available for reservation at our public programs soon. By connecting directly to our A/V system, guests will be able to hear the lecture or presentation more clearly, even with our regular lobby echo. Our Program staff are currently setting up all the equipment and will announce they will be available for reservation soon. If you want more information about how the devices will with public programs, contact Laura Grant, our Program Assistant. You can reach her at (443) 873-5169 or

We hope that these devices will support more of our guests engaging in our stories. Our program and education staff, as well as our volunteers, have been working hard to master this new technology to make it available to you.

Our docents have dedicated their time to learn the devices in order to provide them to our guests.

If you’re interested in using these devices during a public tour, simply contact me, the Visitor Services Coordinator at (443) 873-5164 or I can reserve these devices, as well as help you book a group visit. If you have any additional questions about the units or about our accessibility, please reach out. This is just one step to help make the Museum more inclusive and more accessible, and we’re always looking to improve our visitors’ experience.

I’m so pleased to find new ways to increase our accessibility. Please reach out if there are other ways I can help you share our stories!

jewish museum of maryland

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