December 21, 2010 Audiology

Youth Hearing at Risk: Tools for Fun and Learning

Recent evidence of the rise in prevalence in teen hearing loss has opened a discussion of how to educate youth—and people of all ages—about the importance of hearing health. Below are links and descriptions of fun and interactive online resources, sorted by age group. Some of these groups are inter-related and provide resources for more than one age group.

 Young Children (6–8 years old) 

  • Listen to Your Buds. ASHA's "Listen to Your Buds" campaign encourages children to practice safe listening habits such as turning down the volume and taking listening breaks when they use personal audio technology so they can avoid hearing loss. The website includes links to helpful information for parents, including research about children's increasing exposure to entertainment technology, federal advocacy to protect children's hearing, and survey results on hearing loss among high-school students and the particularly high exposure to loud volumes for protracted periods by Hispanic teens and adults. A Buds concert series has brought the safe-listening message to more than a dozen elementary schools in California, New Orleans, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, and ASHA has partnered with "It's a Noisy Planet" in the Washington, D.C., area to extend outreach to 'tweens.

 'Tweens (8–12 years old) 

  • It's a Noisy Planet. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) offers presentations for middle-school students and their parents. The Noisy Planet website delivers fun, science-based, hands-on presentations that focus on how low noise affects hearing and how tweens can protect their hearing. Information in Spanish is included.
  •  Operation BANG (Be Aware of Noise Generation),a campaign of the Military Audiology Association. Targeted at fifth-graders, this hearing-loss prevention program is designed as a one-hour presentation each day over three days. Two basic concepts are presented: three ways to protect hearing (turn it down, walk away, and cover your ears) and the three-foot rule (if you have to raise your voice to be heard at arm's length, the noise is too loud.) The website includes full curriculum for grade 5, condensed curricula for grades 2–3 and 4–5, a cost breakout, and handouts for students and parents.
  • SAFEEars! Sertoma collaborated with NIDCD to launch "SAFEEars" as a national service project in 2003. Sertoma distributes NIDCD's educational materials, disposable hearing protection, and a media package more broadly to members in its 650 service clubs for use in schools and at public events.
  • I Love What I Hear!NIDCD's classroom activities for grades 3–6 are designed to help students build awareness of the importance of hearing conservation and noise-induced hearing loss; introduce scientific understanding of the science of sound and hearing; and provide children opportunities to raise others' awareness.

Teens (12–19 years old) 

  • Healthy Youth! This webpage of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on hearing loss prevention includes information about how schools can promote hearing health through policies, regular screenings, and education. It also covers agency health surveys of school policies and practices at the state, district, school, and classroom levels and addresses hearing health for children and teens. 
  •  Dangerous Decibels, is a K–12 campaign created by the Oregon Hearing Research Center at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) with partners Portland State University (Department of Health Communications) and University of Northern Colorado. It offers a teacher resource kit with a sound-level meter, a "How Loud" wheel, an ear anatomy poster, hair cell photos, and more. Also available are coloring pages for younger children, a 105-page resource guide for K–8 educators, a DVD, and an interactive virtual exhibit for all ages.
  • The House Ear Institute, has a new interactive website for teens with downloadable materials for teachers interested in implementing a classroom course on prevention of hearing loss.
  • How Your Brain Understands What Your Ear Hears is a curriculum supplement developed by NIDCD for grades 7-8. Lessons are designed to help students understand the interrelationship of hearing, language, and human communication, as well as to develop the healthy hearing habits necessary to avoid noise-induced hearing loss.

 Other Resources 

  • ASHA's Resource Guide for Hearing Conservation and Occupational Audiology includes practice policy documents, hearing conservation regulations, coding and reimbursement resources, patient/employee education materials, and selected ASHA journal articles.
  • Division 8, Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance is a special interest division that takes a transdisciplinary approach to address topics across the lifespan including hearing loss prevention (e.g., military, occupational, recreational), sudden hearing loss, forensic audiology, fall prevention and other balance-related issues, and epidemiologic and sociologic issues. The division is offering a free issue of Perspectives to members and the public.
  • Audiology Awareness Campaign (AAC), a nonprofit group focused on helping people with hearing loss find quality hearing health care, offers an information section that includes an animated tour of the ear, hearing loss questionnaires, useful consumer articles written by audiologists, and a free booklet on hearing health care.
  • Know Noise is a comprehensive education program for grades 3–6, with products for sale from the Sight and Hearing Association.


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