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Thomas Kauffman
OTOjOY, a California-based company, installed hearing loop technology at the site of the Bonanza Campout, which takes place June 23-25.

The Bonanza Campout music festival in Heber combines music, camping and art, and this year, the festival will be accessible to people with hearing loss.

The festival is June 23-25 at Rivers Edge at Deer Park in Heber and, in addition to featuring more than 30 bands, including Nick Murphy (formerly known as Chet Faker) and Odesza, the festival has also partnered with California-based OTOjOY to provide hearing loop technology.

“We believe that it is important to make music accessible to our patrons with hearing loss,” said Joey Traum, operations director for Bonanza Campout, in a news release.

According to OTOjOY’s founder, Thomas Kaufmann, the company installs hearing loop technology which it wires at a venue to send a magnetic field embedded with audio signals. The magnetic signals communicate with the telecoils in hearing aids and cochlear implants, allowing people with hearing loss to hear the audio.

“It essentially turns hearing aids and cochlear implants into wireless headphones,” Kaufmann said in an interview with the Deseret News. “On top of that, the hearing aid or cochlear implant is programmed specifically for your individual pattern of hearing loss, much like eyeglasses would be (for eyes). What that does, it gives you the clarity and not just volume.”

An estimated 20 percent of adults in America experience some form of hearing loss, according to an OTOjOY news release. Kaufmann said hearing loop technology has been around for several decades and, while it is widely used in Europe, not many people in the United States know what it is.

His company installs the technology in theaters, concert venues, churches and other public buildings. Sometimes it’s the venue owners that contact the company, but often it’s OTOjOY that contacts the venue about the technology.

“The biggest challenge is there’s a huge lack of education about hearing loss and available technology,” he said. “That’s the biggest part of our business. The actual installation takes a fraction of time (compared to what) we spend on advocacy and outreach.”

Kaufmann makes it a habit to research music performances that will be going on nearby when he travels for business. When he started making plans to travel to Salt Lake City to participate in the Hearing Loss Association of America’s convention at the Salt Palace, Kaufmann knew he wanted to reach out to a music venue about installing hearing loop technology. He approached the organizers of the Bonanza Campout and suggested they partner to make the music festival accessible to individuals with hearing loss.

“Music, especially in a festival setting, has the power to connect us, change us and inspire us, and it is an experience that everyone should be able to fully enjoy, regardless of their physical abilities,” Traum said in the news release.

The news release estimates more than 1,000 people will attend the HLAA convention, and Bonanza Campout is offering discounted tickets for convention attendees to experience the hearing loop technology at the festival.

OTOjOY has installed its technology into more than 80 community spaces in the Santa Barbara, California, area, where the company is based, and many more throughout the country.

“It means the world to (people with hearing loss), particularly when it comes to music,” Kaufmann said. “It’s such an incredibly emotional experience for them, particularly if they haven’t been able to hear music clearly in years or even decades.”

If you go …

What: Bonanza Campout

When: June 23-25

Where: River’s Edge at Deer Park, Heber

How much: Multiple ticket packages are available, including weekend passes, day passes and camping packages

Web: bonanzacampout.com

Note: HLAA convention attendees interested in receiving discounted tickets can email events@otojoy.com.

Hearing loop technology explained

OTOjOY explains the mechanics behind its hearing loop technology, which will be installed and used at the Bonanza Campout in Heber.