WHO Make Listening Safe press release

27 FEBRUARY 2015 ¦ GENEVA – Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events, according to the World Health Organization. Hearing loss has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education and employment.

Data from studies in middle- and high-income countries analysed by WHO indicate that among teenagers and young adults aged 12-35 years, nearly 50% are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices and around 40% are exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues. Unsafe levels of sounds can be, for example, exposure to in excess of 85 decibels (dB) for eight hours or 100 dB for 15 minutes.

“As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss,” notes Dr Etienne Krug, World Health Organization (WHO) Director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. “They should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won’t come back. Taking simple preventive actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk.”

Safe listening depends on the intensity or loudness of sound, and the duration and frequency of listening. Exposure to loud sounds can result in temporary hearing loss or tinnitus which is a ringing sensation in the ear. When the exposure is particularly loud, regular or prolonged, it can lead to permanent damage of the ear’s sensory cells, resulting in irreversible hearing loss.

WHO recommends that the highest permissible level of noise exposure in the workplace is 85 dB up to a maximum of eight hours per day. Many patrons of nightclubs, bars and sporting events are often exposed to even higher levels of sound, and should therefore considerably reduce the duration of exposure. For example, exposure to noise levels of 100 dB, which is typical in such venues, is safe for no more than 15 minutes.

Teenagers and young people can better protect their hearing by keeping the volume down on personal audio devices, wearing earplugs when visiting noisy venues, and using carefully fitted, and, if possible, noise-cancelling earphones/headphones. They can also limit the time spent engaged in noisy activities by taking short listening breaks and restricting the daily use of personal audio devices to less than one hour. With the help of smartphone apps, they can monitor safe listening levels. In addition they should heed the warning signs of hearing loss and get regular hearing checkups.

Governments also have a role to play by developing and enforcing strict legislation on recreational noise, and by raising awareness of the risks of hearing loss through public information campaigns. Parents, teachers and physicians can educate young people about safe listening, while managers of entertainment venues can respect the safe noise levels set by their respective venues, use sound limiters, and offer earplugs and “chill out” rooms to patrons. Manufacturers can design personal audio devices with safety features and display information about safe listening on products and packaging.

To mark International Ear Care Day, celebrated each year on March 3rd, WHO is launching the “Make Listening Safe” initiative to draw attention to the dangers of unsafe listening and promote safer practices. In collaboration with partners worldwide, WHO will alert young people and their families about the risks of noiseinduced hearing loss and advocate towards governments for greater attention to this issue as part of their broader efforts to prevent hearing loss generally.

Worldwide, 360 million people today have moderate to profound hearing loss due to various causes, such as noise, genetic conditions, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, and ageing. It is estimated that half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable. To address this issue, WHO collates data and information on hearing loss to demonstrate its prevalence, causes and impact as well as opportunities for prevention and management; assists countries to develop and implement programmes for hearing care that are integrated into the primary health-care system; and provides technical resources for training health workers.

RELATED LINKS:

“Make Listening Safe” web site, with brochure, flyer, posters, infographic http://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/activities/MLS WHO

fact sheet on deafness and hearing loss http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs300/en/

For more information please contact: Laura Sminkey Communications Officer WHO Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention

Telephone: +41 22 791 4547

Mobile: +41 79 249 3520

Email: sminkeyl@who.int

Our Story

Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented!

According to the World Health Organization, 43 million people in the world suffer from debilitating hearing loss caused by noise. The saddest part; noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable by wearing hearing protection. Unfortunately, Many people avoid wearing hearing protection because of discomfort as well as its lack of aesthetics.

We created Otogear to minimize the stigma of wearing hearing protection, which will in turn help end the epidemic of noise-induced hearing loss.

Otogear is a patent pending earplug attachment that changes the face of hearing protection. With Otogear, hearing protection becomes an extension of one’s personality. Kids, teens, adults, and seniors will enjoy wearing their hearing protection, which will lead to a new generation of hearing protection users.

In 2014, Otogear’s CEO Madeline Bennett came up with the idea of a decorative detachable earplug attachment as a class project during her studies at the University of Washington. Since then she applied for a provisional patent and incorporated the company. Otogear has competed in the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, University of Washington’s Foster School of Business Plan Competition, as well as placing 3rd in the Hear and Now Noise Safety Challenge held by OSHA, NIOSH, and MSHA.

Since graduating from the University of Washington June of 2016 Madeline has made Otogear her #1 priority. Otogear’s team consists of CEO Madeline Bennett, Chief Audiologist and Scientist Dr. Kelly Tremblay, COO Traci Bennett and Chief Design Officer Serina Rockwell.

Madeline Bennett has a history of social entrepreneurship as she is the founder of the non-profit organization Owl Be Better With Music; which just recently celebrated it’s 5 year anniversary.

Dr. Kelly Tremblay is a world-renowned audiologist and neuroscientist with numerous published works. As a clinician and neuroscientist, Kelly Tremblay uses her training in neuroscience to better improve some of the everyday listening difficulties people with hearing loss describe.

Traci Bennett has an impressive history as working as a small business consultant. Lastly, Former Disney executive, Serina Rockwell, provides the creative lead thanks to her vast experience in brand strategy, product identity, retail, and packaging. Our team is ready to move forward and bring Otogear to market.

 

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Otogear’s Promise

Otogear’s goal is to ensure a fun and safe listening experience. To do this we ensure that any earplug included with our patent pending Otogear Earplug Attachments meet OSHA, NIOSH, and MHSA safety standards. We also test each earplug to make sure they are comfortable and fit perfectly with the Otogear Attachment. Finally, you are guaranteed an American made product, as our manufacturing plant is located in Vancouver Washington.

 

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2016 Updates

2016 was an exciting year for Otogear.

In April, we filed for our Non-Provisional Utility Patent with the Davis Wright Tremaine firm representing us. This is an important step for us as it protects the IP as well as being a much-needed factor to convince venture capitalists/angel investors to invest in us in the future.

In October, we competed in the Hear and Now Innovation Challenge held by OSHA, NIOSH, and MSHA and finished with a 3rd place trophy! This event was an incredible opportunity to network as well as introducing us to new clients.

After placing third in the Here and Now innovation challenge GeekWire a very popular Seattle Tech blog approached us to do a feature on the company. The GeekWire article was shared by over 400 people/pages. This includes the Hearing Loss Association of America as well as the University of Washington. We also were featured on the NIOSH blog. Because of the positive feedback, CEO Madeline Bennett quit her full-time position to focus solely on Otogear.

We have our tooling built and will be running our first run of Otogear’s this month. With tooling finished, order fulfillment time is 3-4 weeks!

Interested in buying a pair of OTOGEARs?  Pre-Order Yours today!

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