A photo of the crowd gathered on the lawn in front of a big festival stage. A light blue sign in the middle of the lawn advertises a hearing loop.

Regina Folk Festival Improves Accessibility with Hearing Loop

By: Dave Margoshes November, 2022

Aligning with one of its core values, the Regina Folk Festival launched the Hearing Loop Project this summer to enhance the musical experience of its annual event for the hard of hearing.

The festival’s new Executive Director, Josh Haugerud says, “The audio loops allow people who are hard of hearing or with sensitivity to sound, such as people on the autism spectrum, to have the sound at the level that they want and to be able to focus a little bit better on what’s going on, on stage.”

For the project, five people from the deaf and hard of hearing community and five people with autism were invited to take part in the trial. The hearing loop wires were buried into the ground in a circle or square and connected to the festival’s soundboard. People sitting or standing within the loop received enhanced sound quality transmitted directly to their hearing aid or implant, or in the case of people who are sensitive to sound, through special headphones.

“Hearing loss is often considered an invisible condition. There are also many folks with hyper-sensitivities to stimuli such as loud sounds,” he says, as almost five million Canadians suffer from the condition. “The hearing loops allow people with these problems to control the volume and frequency themselves.”

After this summer’s trial is evaluated, the hearing loop area will be enlarged next year and eventually, the entire festival area within Victoria Park could be encircled by the wires.

One participant wrote, “In my opinion, the tele-coil loop is a success and well worth it. You need to advertise this, and advertise it BIG.”

A full accessibility audit is also planned for the organization, and improvement of the wheelchair access area, says Haugerud. “We need to build on what’s already been done. We want everyone to feel welcome.

“I am so happy to share this initiative as it continues our commitment to ensure that all can attend and enjoy Regina Folk Festival events.”

The Regina Folk Festival receives annual funding from SaskFestivals administered by SK Arts, thanks to funding from Sask Lotteries. This Hearing Loop was funded with the assistance of Hearing Loop Canada and a special grant from the City of Regina.