ASHA Promotes New Global Recommendation for Safe Listening

Safe Listening

Group calls new standards an ‘unprecedented’ step in the right direction

Around the world, people are experiencing an increased hearing loss risk from unsafe use of personal audio devices going unaddressed.

For the first time, global recommendations exist for reducing the risk—courtesy of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The WHO-ITU H.870 Global Standard on Safe Listening Devices and Systems demands that manufacturers equip devices like smartphones and personal audio players with information that explains safe listening. For adults, the standard is no more than 40 hours per week of listening at volume levels no higher than 80 dB; for children, that level decreases to 75 dB.

According to WHO, nearly 50% of people age 12–35 years old—or 1.1 billion young people—are at risk of hearing loss from prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds, including music heard through personal audio devices. Besides the toll on individual lives, WHO says unaddressed hearing loss comes with an annual global price tag of $750 billion.

“Our member audiologists have long been at the forefront of informing and educating the public about the risks associated with unsafe use of personal audio devices and providing professional guidance to minimize it,” said ASHA president Shari B. Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP. “We thank WHO for giving us the opportunity to consult with them, and we also commend them for their strong commitment to hearing health.”

SOURCE: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

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