Lyric Opera of Chicago introduces 'SoundShirt' for hearing-impaired audiences

The Lyric Opera of Chicago has announced a new and unique addition for its audience.

You probably wouldn’t think people with hearing impairments would be the ones waiting in line for an opera. But the Lyric Opera of Chicago is trying to change that.

On Tuesday, the theater announced it will start a SoundShirt pilot program. A SoundShirt is a wearable technology that allows those who are deaf or hard of hearing to experience live opera, enhanced by real-time vibrations.

The shirt vibrates exactly to the feel of the music. Different parts of the orchestra can be felt in different areas of the body.

Some people got a chance to experience the shirt in action.

"When I put on the sounds shirt, it actually enhanced my experience by giving me tactical access to the volume and the scenes and sound effects that I could not hear on my own. So it changed the way I can experience a production here at the opera," said Rachel Arfa, Commissioner, Mayor Office for People with Disabilities.

The SoundShirt will be available for selected performances during the new season. The pilot program will start on October 1 at The Flying Dutchman.