BY ERIN O’DONNELL, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION AND GLOBAL HEALTH
Safe Listening: The practice of ensuring that sound-related recreational activities do not pose a threat to your hearing.
On March 3rd, the House Institute joined 96 countries and over 300 events in a global awareness day spearheaded by the World Health Organization: World Hearing Day. Each year, the theme for World Hearing Day focuses on a specific area of need within the broader field of hearing health. The theme this year was, “to hear for life, listen with care.” Many common causes of hearing loss can be prevented, including hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sounds. And with prevention, in combination with treatment and technological advancements in hearing care, maintaining good hearing health over the course of one’s lifespan is possible for most people.
This year’s theme is of particular importance to young people who often attend recreational events with dangerously high decibels or listen to music at a high volume through headphones.
Because of this, 1 in 2 young people between the ages of 12 and 35 are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening. And globally, 1 in 4 people are projected to have hearing loss by 2050.
What are we collectively doing to disrupt this alarming trajectory?
From policymakers to informed members of the public, we all have a responsibility to come together as a community to raise awareness and address safe listening and preventable hearing loss.
The Micro View – Local Engagement
The House Institute celebrated World Hearing Day with a virtual ‘Ask Me Anything’ event.
We live-streamed with House Institute neurotologists Dr. Brackmann and Dr. Peng, offering a unique opportunity for viewers to ask their hearing-related questions. Over the course of the hour, 130 people tuned in. The replay is available to all on our YouTube channel.
Later that evening, we ventured into the community for some grassroots engagement. We partnered with hearing protection company EarPeace to give away high-fidelity earplugs to venue staff and concertgoers at the Echoplex, a Los Angeles live music venue. Our team interacted with staff and fans alike, sharing about the importance of hearing health and the enhanced musical experience that quality earplugs can provide while preventing inner ear damage.
The Macro View – Global Guidelines
Last year, the WHO launched the World Report on Hearing, outlining evidence-based practices for how countries can implement ear and hearing care services into national health plans. This year, the WHO unveiled two additional public health documents aimed at mitigating noise-induced hearing loss. One of these is the Global Standard for Safe Listening at Venues and Events. This document provides recommendations for entertainment venues, bars, nightclubs, and arenas that will allow audience members around the world to enjoy amplified music without damaging their hearing and while maintaining the integrity of the artistic experience. As we build partnerships with venues in the LA area, our team is promoting adherence to these guidelines and offering creative strategies and incentives for venues to encourage the use of hearing protection amongst their clientele.