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Dallas Arboretum Adds Technology For Visitors With Hearing Loss, Just In Time For Spring

'Dallas Blooms' features topiaries shaped like different musical instruments for this year's theme 'Sounds of Spring.'

The Dallas Arboretum's Spring festival 'Dallas Blooms' opened over the weekend. This year, the garden hopes to make the event more accessible to visitors with hearing loss by debuting new technology.

The headseat and the software that powers the new experience were invented in North Texas. It will be available on tram tours and in the children's garden as well as a few special event spaces.

Barry Epstein with HEAR US NOW created the device. 

"There are so many people who are hearing impaired of all ages. They would shy away from coming and when they come here they wouldn't get the whole experience," Epstein said. "We have the technology under control, but how do you make a venue aware of what it can do? If we can be part of that I think we can make a lot happen for a lot of people."

Epstein worked with graduate students at the University of Texas at Dallas to test and develop the technology. That team was led by Dr. Linda Thibodeau.

Dallas Blooms started Feb. 29 and features cherry trees, azaleas and half-a-million spring blooming bulbs.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.