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All SBIFF Theatre Venues Now Equipped with Hearing Loops

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival with the generous support of the Manitou Fund announced today that it has permanently equipped all four Metro 4 Theatres and two screens at Fiesta 5 Theatres with state of the art OTOjOY hearing loop technology, just in time for the 35th annual Film Festival.


All SBIFF auditoriums including The Lobero, Arlington and Riviera Theatres now proudly provide the hearing loop system. SBIFF values diversity and inclusion, and this project enriches access for the community permanently, providing a quality theatre-going experience for all.

A hearing loop system is an assistive listening technology that sends audio wirelessly to a patron’s hearing aids or cochlear implant/s. The loop provides clean sound, minimizes background noise, and eliminates the need for a separate receiver or headset. It can be accessed by any number of users and by anyone with a compatible, telecoil-enabled hearing device.  When combined with a loop receiver, this technology can also assist people who do not wear a hearing device to improve clarity of speech and sound. With the direct wireless connection, individuals with hearing loss don’t need to borrow or return equipment from the venue. Loops provide discreet communication access for people with hearing loss and greater inclusion in public events.

According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, approximately 23% of the U.S. population over the age of 12, more than 60 million people, have some degree of hearing loss.

“Part of our mission is to make the world of film and filmmaking accessible to everyone, so we are incredibly proud to partner with the Manitou Fund on this project,” says SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.

"Creating more hearing-friendly venues allows people with hearing loss to participate fully in the community. Every new hearing loop increases access for people with hearing loss and enhances our nation’s accessibility infrastructure,” says Barbara Kelley, Executive Director of Hearing Loss Association of America. “HLAA applauds the work of the Manitou Fund and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to equip area theaters with looping systems.”

“Accessing hearing assisting loop technology is a game changer for not only the hard of hearing but for anyone who wishes to enjoy the best hearing experience possible in a looped venue,” shares Nora McNeely Hurley of the Manitou Fund. “Hearing loops have improved my quality of life profoundly and I hope that others will discover the exciting benefits of accessing Telecoil loop technology via personal hearing devices. Ask your audiologist and/or theater manager for ways by which you can get in the loop!”

Manitou Fund is dedicated to enriching the lives of people through financial support that enhances and sustains the beauty and importance of Nature, the Arts, Humanities, Health and Education.

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 34 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States - attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In 2016, SBIFF acquired the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s state-of-the-art, fully accessible, year-round home and Santa Barbara’s year-round arthouse theater. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs.

To learn more about hearing loops and how to get involved in this national movement, access a free toolkit at

To connect with the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Santa Barbara Chapter, go to

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