Hearing loss prevention for Rotary 

 Loud noise can damage hearing. Noise induced hearing loss prevention is a WHO priority.

What can Rotary do?

  1. Make Listening Safe at Rotary events: Safe Listening is the World Health Organization’s initiative to highlight and reduce the growing risk of hearing loss posed by “unsafe” listening through personal audio devices and systems.  Loud music and other amplified sounds are a cause of tinnitus and hearing loss and is preventable.
  2. What is safe listening?

Safe listening refers to listening behaviour that does not put an individual’s hearing at risk. The risk of hearing loss depends on the level (loudness), duration (time period) and frequency of exposure to loud sounds.

Public events are frequently “too loud” which is an especial concern if children are present.

WHO proposes:

that the WHO-ITU Global standard’s three recommendations be:

  • implemented by governments as regulations/legislation ias a means for hearing-loss prevention;
  • adopted voluntarily by manufacturers of devices to ensure that their customers can practice safe listening;
  • used by civil society groups and consumer associations to advocate for development of safe listening devices and system

How do I know if the Sound is Too Loud?

Here are some rules of thumb to tell if the sounds around you are too loud.

  1. if you are having trouble hearing someone talking in a conversational volume when you’re an arm’s length away, and you don’t normally have hearing problems, then the sound is too loud.    Damage to your hearing is a function of the loudness and the time you are listening for.
  2. Measure the sound at points where the audience will stand or sit. There are many free apps to measure sound level (eg Decibel X).   If your event participants are at risk of hearing damage, take action. Turn down the volume until it is safe for all.. The figures below are your guide.
  3. You can listen at
  • 85 dBA for a few hours.
  • 100 dBA for up to 14 minutes.
  • 110 dBA for no more than 2 minutes.

So if the sound level of the performers at your event is at 100dBA at your seat, you can listen for a total of 14 minutes before your hearing starts to become permanently damaged.

If you are running an event, measure the sound at various points in the area – sound level reduces with distance from the source.  No one in your event should be at risk.

What can you do for yourself?

  • Use high quality earplugs
  • Go home
  • Move further from the source, until it’s safe
  • Ask the event organiser to make it safe.

If you are planning an event, make sure that the sound will be set up to avoid hearing injury, and monitor it during the even (musicians are inclined to sneak up the volume).  Do not expose children to hearing damage.


Cochlear Implants for severe to profound hearing loss

Children who have severe to profound hearing loss can often experience delays in learning to talk. Early intervention, such as fitting a hearing aid or provision of a cochlear implant is critical for giving a child access to sound to learn to speak.  Lifelong disadvantage can result from inadequate hearing care by reducing a person’s ability to communicate and participate in society.

In many cases of children with a severe to profound hearing loss, hearing aids are unable to effectively provide the access to speech sounds that is needed for oral language development. Therefore, children in this situation need to undergo assessment to determine their candidacy for cochlear implants. A cochlear implant can offer the necessary physiological stimulation for profoundly deaf children that hearing aids are unable to provide.

The challenge with this process is multifactorial. One factor is that specialized audiology clinics offering these services are limited, especially in developing countries.

Another is that current audiology practices primarily rely on electrophysiology measures (a response from the auditory nerve in the brain) in young infants to determine how to accurately program a hearing aid. This kind of testing is not effective for all types of hearing loss.

Assessing the benefit of hearing aids for a child can also be challenging, and can only be performed accurately once the child is developmentally ready for behavioural testing. By the time this is possible, the child may have already missed a crucial period in their life for language acquisition, even if they have been using a hearing aid.

Furthermore, globally, there is no method to assess whether an infant can tell the difference between different speech sounds. Such a test would help audiologist to know much earlier whether a cochlear implant would be better than a hearing aid for a severe to profoundly deaf child.

Recently, researchers at the Bionics Institute have created a speech discrimination test for infants. It is an objective test that this will assist Audiologists in the decision-making process of whether child needs a hearing aid or cochlear implant. It will also be used to ascertain if a child is hearing adequately through their hearing aid.

Yoshinaga-Itano C, Baca RL, Sedey AL. Describing the trajectory of language development in the presence of severe-to-profound hearing loss: a closer look at children with cochlear implants versus hearing aids. Otol Neurotol. 2010 Oct;31(8):1268-74. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0b013e3181f1ce07. PMID: 20818291; PMCID: PMC3014847.
Sharma SD, Cushing SL, Papsin BC, Gordon KA. Hearing and speech benefits of cochlear implantation in children: A review of the literature. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2020 Jun;133:109984. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2020.109984. Epub 2020 Mar 9. PMID: 32203759.
Entwisle LK, Warren SE, Messersmith JJ. Cochlear Implantation for Children and Adults with Severe-to-Profound Hearing Loss. Semin Hear. 2018 Nov;39(4):390-404. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1670705. Epub 2018 Oct 26. PMID: 30374210; PMCID: PMC6203457.
Ching, T.Y.C., et al., Learning from the Longitudinal Outcomes of Children with Hearing Impairment (LOCHI) study: summary of 5-year findings and implications. Int J Audiol, 2018. 57(sup2): p. S105-S111.
Linty McDonald, Research Audiologist at the Bionics Institute, East Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

What is Auracast and why is it important?

Hearing is about to be more accessible to many people with this new Bluetooth SIG Development, explained here


What is Auracast and why is it important?

Hearing is about to be more accessible to many people with this new Bluetooth SIG Development, explained here