For last week’s trip to Orlando, I carefully planned everything I would need for a busy tradeshow week in the sunshine state, or so I thought…
I packed lightweight clothes, a sweater for layering, sunglasses and my trusty tradeshow shoes but after a visit to Downtown Disney’s House of Blues for a bite to eat, I was quickly reminded that actually, I had forgotten to pack something important, my EAR PLUGS!
Now I know what you’re thinking, “why do you possibly have ear plugs, Apryl?” [“You’re not in construction, you’re not a factory worker and last I noticed you’re not old enough to have issues with your hearing yet, right?”] The simple answer is: you gotta protect what your momma gave you! We’re only given two ears and ear plugs are a simple way to protect your ear drums and actually enjoy a live performance rather than just wishing the band would not be SO all about that bass…
Well thankfully, House of Blues had me covered; they offered ear plugs in a gumball machine for just 50 cents! What a cool way to make ear plugs available to patrons to protect their ear drums, prevent further hearing loss, and even improve the enjoyment factor of a musical performance by actually enabling you to hear better by blocking out the noise that distorts the sounds you hear.
Did you know that our hearing is the best it will ever be the day we’re born?
There’s a common misperception in our society that hearing loss is just something that happens when you get older, but in fact, 36 million people, or 17% of the US population has a measurable degree of hearing loss or 1 in every 4 people! * The significance becomes even more apparent when compared to 1.4% with a physical disability and 0.14% with a visual disability. Increasingly, hearing loss is on the rise and impacts society in so many ways.
Hearing loss can be caused by all kinds of things including: a buildup of earwax, abnormal bone growths or tumors, ruptured eardrums and even by something as common as ear infections. This explains why physicians take notice of ear infections in infants and carefully inform parents what they should look for to help identify if the infection may be worsening so they can act quickly with treatments to remedy. The Mayo Clinic provides a great explanation of How You Hear so we can better understand hearing loss.
The good news is there are a number of steps you can take to prevent noise-induced hearing loss and limit worsening of hearing loss related to aging, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Protect your ears in the workplace. Specially designed earmuffs that resemble earphones can protect your ears by bringing most loud sounds down to an acceptable level. Foam, pre-formed, or custom-molded earplugs made of plastic or rubber also can effectively protect your ears from damaging noise.
- Have your hearing tested. Consider regular hearing tests if you work in a noisy environment. Regular testing of your ears can provide early detection of hearing loss. Knowing you’ve lost some hearing means you’re in a position to take steps to prevent further hearing loss.
- Avoid recreational risks.
Some activities, such as riding a snowmobile, hunting and rock concerts for long periods of time, can damage your hearing. Wearing hearing protectors or taking breaks from the noise during loud recreational activities can protect your ears. Turning down the volume when listening to music can help you avoid damage to your hearing.
We’re lucky to be in the AV Industry where solutions like Assistive Listening Systems (ALS) are available to help solve common sound problems caused by distance, background noise, reverberation or poor room acoustics. By providing those who are hard of hearing access in and around your building, opportunities are created for increased business. According to government accounting “businesses that made accessibility improvements experienced a 12% increase in business.” Disabled Americans have $175 billion in discretionary spending power and a consumer spending power of $220 billion annually. In addition, there may be tax benefits available for making audio materials available to hearing-impaired individuals.**
While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements call for ALS in public places and areas of assembly, you might be surprised to hear that some of the most popular areas where ALS are deployed can be found in the private sector including: corporate, higher education and especially houses of worship. Areas like corporate boardrooms, large conference rooms, training rooms, auditoriums and lecture halls, and churches are consistent users of these systems because they can help a board member, student, parent or parishioner better hear the message, stay engaged and encourage participation.
Click here to download more information on ADA Compliance issues related to Assistive Listening Systems and reach out to your Almo rep to let us know how we can help you create opportunities for ALS with your customers. And don’t forget to pack your ear plugs!!!
*Using the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of ‘hearing loss’ as an individual not being able to hear sounds of 25 decibels or less in the speech frequency range. **Tax form 8826 : http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8826.pdf