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Widespread Addiction to Portable Music Players Increasing Potential for Premature in Youth, Adults Alike – Pt. 1

by Jessica Perreault, CHHA National Office

ipod-nano-green-256x256With increased playing time, easy portability, higher peak decibel levels, and rapid growth in popularity, the portable personal music player has become a ticking time bomb for potential premature hearing loss. While precautions can be taken to handle the risk of damage, those unaware of how damaging their listening habits are may be less likely to change their behavior.

Experts argue that we are not stumbling on some new phenomena that is going to create pandemonium. What we are seeing is a resurfacing of the concerns raised in the 1980’s when Sony put out the “Walkman”. The ‘90’s brought us the “Discman” and now, the millennium has graced us with the “iPod” and many other MP3 players available on the consumer market. The changes in technology have allowed consumers to listen to their devices anywhere, for longer amounts of time, at increased volumes.

Even though information as surfaced regarding the potential harm of personal devices, studies have shown that both adults and youth are not likely to change their listening habits. According to one study conducted by Zogby International for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), half of all youth and adults polled said they are not concerned with potential hearing loss, and approximately the same amount indicated they had no intention of taking preventative measures.

Dr. Marshall Chasin, AuD., M.Sc., Reg. CASLPO, Aud(C ), an Audiologist and Director of Auditory Research at the Musicians’ Clinics of Canada, indicates that the peak decibel (dB) level of these portable devices is approximately 136dB. However, depending on the style of headphones used in conjunction with the device, maximum output can reach anywhere from 50-140dB. To put that in perspective, 140dB is equivalent to a gunshot or firecracker. Listening to 80-85 dB (equivalent to an alarm clock, or telephone dial tone) for approximately 40 hours per week is safe without the worry of inflicting damage. However, for every 3 dB increase in the volume, the safe exposure time is cut in half. That’s a lot of damage potential in a very short period of time.

While research to suggest that age does not affect an individual’s susceptibility is limited, children nowadays are more likely to be exposed to personal music devices early on. As a result, the exposure is increased substantially from what it was for their predecessors. Children are more likely to get into the habit of relying on the portable players than their parents. Still, anyone is just as likely to suffer from the risks of loud noise. Remember, it’s not important who you are and what you listen to, but how you listen to it, when you listen to it, and at what volume.

The goal at CHHA is to raise awareness of the hard of hearing community and educate individuals about hearing loss. To learn more about the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, and issues such as personal portable music devices, call Voice: 604 795-9238 Toll-Free: 1-866-888-2442 (In BC Only).

This Press Release is from CHHA National Office, Ottawa, Ontario. All rights reserved

Visual Voice Message (Voice to Text Messaging)

By Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Staff

There is a new service being provided by Telus (and perhaps other carriers). It is called Visual Voice Mail.

Telus describes it as:

“Don’t worry about missing important messages when you are unable to answer your phone. With TELUS Visual Voice Mail, there’s no need to dial in to pick up your messages, you just read them on screen.

Read it instead of listening to it

Visual Voice Mail converts your voice mail messages to text and delivers them straight to you as SMS or email within minutes. The converted message will include the phone number of the caller embedded in the text.

Keep record of your voice mail.

You can view all of your messages in one convenient inbox and have a visual record of who called and what they said. ”

Telus provides this service for a monthly fee of $7.50. However it is currently being offered for a free 30 day trial.

This is the link to the information.

or you can call: 1 800 316 0979 or Visit your nearest store

Comments from WIDHH staff using this service already:

“It works well except if a person does not speak clearly when they leave a msg, a word will either be skipped or spelled phonetically. Also, if the voice message is long, it will cut out some of the mssage and leave a request for you to call and listen to the rest of the message.”

If you are using this system – we would like to hear how it is working for you. If there are tips on using the system effectively – we’d like to hear about that as well.

Reprinted from WIDHH’s Blog –

How to Buy Hearing Aid Compatible Cellphone

by Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Staff

There are so many cellphones on the market these days, it can be overwhelming when it comes to finding a phone appropriate for you. Following are some tips on what to look for in a cellphone so that it will be hearing aid compatible.

Look for a Cellphone with a rating of AT LEAST M3/T3

In the US all cellphones are tested for hearing aid compatibility. The M# represents how well the cellphone will work with a hearing aid in microphone mode. M1 is the lowest rating and is an indication of high interference. M4 is the highest rating and indicates low interference.

The T# rating represents how well the cellphone will work with a heairng aid in T-Coil mode. Again T1 is the lowest rating and T4 is the highest..cellphone1

The whereabouts of this information differs with all cellphone manufacturers. Commonly it can be found on the display card next to the device, on the product packaging, or in the phone manual. Some websites such as PhoneScoop maintain a database of this information. (note: when you go to the website, type in the name of the phone in the Jump to a phone box – top right of main screen. When the phone information comes up scroll down to features and click on ‘show missing features’. You will find the M/T rating under Accessibility, Hearing Aid Compatible)

Choose a Provider that Uses CDMA rather than GSM.

In Canada, both Telus and Bell operate on the CDMA network. Rogers, Fido and all other carriers operate on the GSM network. Phones connected to the CDMA network will interfere less with your hearing aid.

Choose a “Flip” Style Phone

A cellphone’s antenna is a significant source of interference. Generally speaking, the antenna on a flip phone will be positioned farther from the speaker than on a candy bar phone. Be wary of phones with no visible antenna.

Find a Phone with a Smaller LCD Screen

The screen is also a significant source of interference. Often phones with very large or multiple LCD screens (such as iPhones etc)will have low M# ratings. Look for a phone with one small screen.

Be Mindful of the Cellphone’s Outer Casing

There is a growing trend towards manufacturing metallic phones. The idea being that a metal phone is stronger when dropped than a plastic phone. While this is all well and good, metal phones will not work as well with your hearing aid.

Try Before You Buy

In the US it is mandatory that all phone retailers have a ‘live’ phone in store for you to try. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Canada. Still, many retailers will have working phones to demo.

Test that the volume is adequate, and that you can hear clearly on microphone and T-Coil modes.

Know the Return Policy

In store testing is no substitute for the real world. Be sure to try the phone in a variety of listening situations: at home; in the car; at a noisy restaurant etc.

Usually the return policy is based on both days and usage. Ensure that you have adequate time to do your own testing, and can exchange the phone if it is unsuitable for your needs.

Look for a Headset Jack and Bluetooth Connectivity

There are several accessories designed to assist you in hearing on a cellphone. Almost all of these rely on either a 2.5mm headset jack or Bluetooth connection. If your phones has these useful features, you will have a lot more options to assist you.

Two of the most common accessories that you can plug into the 2.5mm jack are:
1. Silhouette cord – a small thin piece of plastic is worn behind your ear, beside your behind-the-ear hearing aid. It emits a magnetic field and transmits the signal from the phone to your hearing aid when the hearing aid is on the t-coil setting. The silhouette cord has a microphone for handsfree operation.
2. Neckloop – a ‘necklace’ style cord you wear around your neck. The neckloop emits a magnetic field and transmits the signal from the phone to your hearing aid while the hearing aid is on the t-coil mode. The neckloop as a microphone for handsfree operation. Note custom hearing aids with t-coils are not always stong enough to use with a neckloop – you may have better success with a silhouette cord in these cases.

Reprinted from WIDHH’s Blog –