Connected hearing aids are nothing new, but today a company called ReSound introduced the iPhone-compatible LiNX 3D, which can be adjusted remotely. This means doctors can access their patients’ hearing aids and make minor adjustments without the person having to revisit their office. The hearing aids also pair with an app for iOS, watchOS, and Android. Through the app, patients can talk to their doctors or learn more about the hearing aid they’re wearing.

Similarly to its predecessor, the LiNX 2, the LiNX 3D prioritizes voices over ambient sounds in a noisy environment. The 3D will be released later this year with pricing also to be announced.
St Jude Researchers Regenerate Auditory Hair Cells in MicePublished on April 17, 2017

St Jude Children’s Research Hospital investigators have used genetic manipulation to regenerate auditory hair cells in adult mice, the hospital announced.  The research marks a possible advance in treatment of hearing loss in humans. The study was published April 11 in Cell Reports.

Loss of auditory hair cells due to prolonged exposure to loud noiseaccidents, illness, aging, or medication is a leading cause of hearing loss and long-term disability in adults worldwide. Some childhood cancer survivors are also at risk because of hair cells damage due to certain chemotherapy agents. Treatment has focused on electronic devices like hearing aids or cochlear implants because once lost, human auditory hair cells do not grow back.

“In this study, we looked to Mother Nature for answers and we were rewarded,” said corresponding author Jian Zuo, PhD, a member of the St Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology. “Unlike in humans, auditory hair cells do regenerate in fish and chicken. The process involves down-regulating expression of the protein p27 and up-regulating the expression of the protein ATOH1. So we tried the same approach in specially bred mice.”

Jian Zuo, PhD, and his colleagues induced supporting cells located in the inner ear of adult mice to take on the appearance of immature hair cells and to begin producing some of the signature proteins of hair cells.

By manipulating the same genes, Zuo and his colleagues induced supporting cells located in the inner ear of adult mice to take on the appearance of immature hair cells and to begin producing some of the signature proteins of hair cells.

The scientists also identified a genetic pathway for hair cell regeneration and detailed how proteins in that pathway cooperate to foster the process. The pathway includes the proteins GATA3 and POU4F3 along with p27 and ATOH1. In fact, investigators found that POU4F3 alone was sufficient to regenerate hair cells, but that more hair cells were regenerated when both ATOH1 and POU4F3 were involved.

“Work in other organs has shown that reprogramming cells is rarely accomplished by manipulating a single factor,” Zuo said. “This study suggests that supporting cells in the cochlea are no exception and may benefit from therapies that target the proteins identified in this study.”

The findings have implications for a phase 1 clinical trial now underway that uses gene therapy to restart expression of ATOH1 to regenerate hair cells for treatment of hearing loss.

ATOH1 is a transcription factor necessary for hair cell development. In humans and other mammals, the gene is switched off when the process is complete. In humans, ATOH1 production ceases before birth.

“This study suggests that targeting p27, GATA3, and POU4F3 may enhance the outcome of gene therapy and other approaches that aim to restart ATOH1 expression,” Zuo said.

The research also revealed a novel role for p27. The protein is best known as serving as a check on cell proliferation. However, in this study, p27 suppressed GATA3 production. Since GATA3 and ATOH1 work together to increase expression of POU4F3, reducing GATA3 levels also reduced expression of POU4F3. When the p27 gene was deleted in mice, GATA3 levels increased along with expression of POU4F3. Hair cell regeneration increased as well.

“Work continues to identify the other factors, including small molecules, necessary to not only promote the maturation and survival of the newly generated hair cells, but also increase their number,” Zuo said.

The first author is Bradley Walters, PhD, formerly of St. Jude. The other authors are Jennifer Dearman, Tetsuji Yamashita, and Bryan Kuo, all of St. Jude, and Emily Coak and Grace Bailey, both visiting students from Bath University, United Kingdom, and formerly of St. Jude.

The study was supported in part by grants (DC006471, DC015010, DC015444, DC013879, CA21765) from the National Institutes of Health; grants (N000140911014, N000141210191, N000141210775, N000141612315) from the Office of Naval Research; the National Organization for Hearing Research Foundation; the Hearing Health Foundation; the Hartwell Foundation; and ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude.

A previous paper in the February 21 edition of Cell Reports by McClean et al, also reported by Hearing Review, described an approach to regenerate inner ear sensory hair cells reportedly lays the groundwork for treating chronic noise-induced hearing loss by the company, Frequency Therapeutics.

Original Paper: Walters BJ, Coak E, Dearman J, et al. In vivo interplay between p27Kip1, GATA3, ATOH1, and POU4F3 converts non-sensory cells to hair cells in adult mice. Cell Reports. April 11, 2017; 19(2): 307-320. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.03.044

Source: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Cell Reports

Millions of U.S. adults have some sort of hearing damage and a surprising number don’t even know it, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hearing loss affects around 40 million adults — one in five between the ages of 20 and 69. It is the third most common chronic condition in the U.S. Almost twice as many people report hearing loss as report diabetes or cancer.

While lengthy exposure to loud sounds at a noisy workplace is a common culprit, the new report emphasizes that the routine noise of everyday modern life can damage hearing just as much.

“Forty million Americans show some hearing damage from loud noise, with nearly 21 million reporting no exposure to loud noise at work,” CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a statement. “This can be distressing for people affected and their loved ones.”

“What’s causing it is loud noise and it’s not just how loud the noise is, it’s how long someone’s exposed to it,” CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus told “CBS This Morning.” “A moderate noise for a long period of time can cause hearing loss.”

Common culprits include using a leaf blower, going to loud concerts, wearing earbuds and headphones, and even cellphone use.

The report also found that about one in four U.S. adults who say their hearing is good or excellent actually have some hearing damage.

“We’re learning now that the prevalence is higher than we thought and it’s really something we need to pay attention to,” Agus said.

So how loud is too loud? The answer is complicated. “Unfortunately we don’t know until it’s too late most of the time,” Agus said. “There’s no quantitative measure for it.”

He recommends not turning up music on your earbuds too high, limiting the use of power tools and using hearing protection in loud environments.

“Keep it to a lower level. Don’t really push it too high because if that damage happens to the nerves in your ears, we can’t regenerate new nerves there and it can cause a problem,” Agus said.

Experts say people concerned about their hearing should:

  • Avoid noisy places whenever possible.
  • Use earplugs, protective earmuffs, or noise-canceling headphones when they are around loud noises.
  • Keep the volume down when watching television, listening to music, and using earbuds or headphones.

By Jamie Wells, M.D. — February 10, 2017

Credit: Shutterstock
Ask yourself how often you ever think about your ability to hear? How much you value it? How much you—and your loved ones—would be impacted if it were gone or profoundly diminished?

How much you would intervene early and often if you knew it would best protect this precious sense? 

Well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes our natural tendency not to appreciate things as much as we should until we don’t have them any more, so they recently studied the extent of adult hearing loss and modifiable ways to prevent it. The most significant finding was that much hearing damage and loss is occurring from loud sounds experienced in our daily lives, homes and community environments. (1) 

These noise-induced deficits are permanent and appear with prominence at early ages—1 in 5 young adults aged 20-29 years increasing to 1 in 4 in those 50-59 years old. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition. (2)

The bad news: Presbycusis (age-related hearing loss, typically a gradual process) is a fact of life until we learn how to circumvent the aging process. Since I am ageless and sticking to that classification, I will let you know how mind over matter turns out in staving this eventuality off. In addition, certain disease states, like diabetes and cancer, along with specific medications can also contribute to this reality.

In the mean time, there is good news: Noise-related hearing loss and its extent of damage can be modifiable with behavioral changes and preventive measures. The lesson is to start now!

Hearing is a gift that allows us to interact with the world. Make social connections. Actively participate without limitation. Thankfully, modern medicine affords us alternatives when it is damaged, but this loss is not without consequences to our health and well-being. In fact, when it is left untreated loneliness, stress, social isolation, diminished cognition, anxiety and depression can result. Worsening heart disease, elevated blood pressure and other untoward effects often accompany chronic noise exposure as well.(3) If you hear ringing in your ears (e.g. tinnitus) or are highly sensitive to commonplace sounds (e.g. hyperacusis) or are challenged to follow conversations amid routine ambient noise, then these could be signs of problems. 

The CDC projects the total cost of first-year hearing loss treatment will increase fivefold between 2002-2030 to $51.4 billion. (4)

Yes, those with occupational noise exposures are at high risk of hearing damage; however, those conditions typically are regulated to a certain degree and gear is worn to minimize negative effects. Much improvement in that arena is constantly being evaluated as completely preventing loss is unrealistic. But, in everyday activities focus on preservation of hearing is not at the forefront of our minds. 

This new study is alerting us that it should be a consideration and awareness can only help.

CDC researchers —in conjunction with support from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communications Disorders, National Institute of Health— analyzed 3,583 hearing tests and questionnaire data in the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 20-69 year old adults to decipher the harm caused by noise. Males exhibited higher rates of loss as did those people, in general, who reported good or excellent hearing. Hearing loss and damage precede perception. 

Though it was determined that noise-induced destruction is quite significant, it was also recognized that preventive efforts could avoid damage and stop progression. Especially when initiated earlier in life. As always, it was not a perfect study given how complex the issue is and the unknown contribution of genetic factors or disease states that might be meaningful underlying influences. That said, noise is a modifiable risk factor that can often be controlled. It is in our best interest to do so when feasible while balancing this consideration with enjoying life. 

Prevention Tips:

  • Avoid protracted exposure to loud environments and wear protective gear (in particular when using leaf blower, attending concerts or sporting events, around sirens and so on…)
  • Be sure your work environment is following noise regulations and is current on policy changes
  • Reduce listening time to high volumes—take breaks
  • Be proactive—Avoid sitting next to the loud speaker in a stadium or ask a restaurant to turn down its music, for example
  • CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends wearing hearing protection whenever noise >85 db(A) regardless of length of exposure (5)
  • Discuss with your doctor routine monitoring of hearing and ways to adjust your environment — this is especially important if you are at higher risk (e.g. on ototoxic medication, diabetic, occupational hazards, exposed to loud sounds in daily life)
  • Remember, there can be damage without symptoms, so simply being aware is a crucial first step.

(1) (3) New Vital Signs study finds noise-related hearing loss not limited to work exposure. CDC. February 7, 2017.

(2) (4) (5) Vital Signs: Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Among Adults—United States 2011-2012. CDC. Weekly. February 7, 2017. 66(5);139-144.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD): Age-Related Hearing Loss

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Too Loud! For Too Long!

PRE-SAFE® Sound: playing 'pink noise' in the split second before impact.
  • 11. November 2015
  • Connectivity
  • Illustration: Realgestalt
  • Text: Rüdiger Abele

PRE-SAFE® Sound works by triggering a protective physical reflex in the milliseconds prior to a collision. And so for the first time the vehicle occupants themselves become an integral part of safety technology.

It takes just a split second for a car accident to completely change a person’s life. Mercedes-Benz PRE-SAFE® can help to minimize the damage. Once the vehicle’s sensors have detected that a collision is unavoidable, a comprehensive system of safety features are activated within the short time that remains before the impact occurs. It takes just 150 milliseconds to deploy the reversible seat belt tensioners, for example. To put that into context, the duration of a human blink is 100 milliseconds.

“PRE-SAFE® was first introduced at Mercedes-Benz in 2002,” says Rodolfo Schöneburg, Head of Vehicle Safety, Durability and Corrosion Protection at Mercedes-Benz Cars. “It kicks in before the collision occurs, preparing the vehicle and its occupants. PRE-SAFE is therefore one of our systems that is based on what actually happens in real-life accidents and helps to save people’s lives.”

Harnessing the stapedius muscle reflex in the ear

Mercedes-Benz is now extending its PRE-SAFE® technology with PRE-SAFE® Sound. It will be debuted in the new E-Class, model series 213, available from 2016. The system is the first to harness a natural reflex to condition the ear – when a collision is imminent – for the loud noise that is anticipated from the impact. If an impending collision is detected that would be expected to produce a loud crash, the vehicle’s sound system plays a short interference signal. This causes the stapedius muscle in the ears to contract, which for a split second changes the link between the eardrum and the inner ear and so better protects it against high acoustic pressures. Most importantly, the reflex reduces the damage to hearing.

From NPR Nathan Harris

If you think your hearing is just fine, think again. A federal study finds that about a quarter of people between the ages of 20 and 69 who think their hearing is good or excellent are in fact showing signs of hearing loss.

Hearing loss is often chalked up to noisy work environments or to aging. To be sure, those are major reasons that people's hearing becomes less acute. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest survey on hearing finds that 24 percent of hearing loss is due to loud workplaces.

SHOTS - HEALTH NEWSExtremely Loud And Incredibly Close: Fans Risk Hearing Loss
"What surprised us was we found many people with evidence of noise-induced hearing damage who don't have noisy jobs, who got that damage from their home or community," says Dr. Ann Schuchat, acting director of the CDC.

Loud noises – from sirens to lawnmowers and rock concerts to sporting events – can permanently damage hearing. That damage builds up over time, and once it's lost, it's lost forever.

The study finds that the loss often starts early in life. The survey found that 20 percent of Americans in their 20s have lost some ability to hear the softest sounds.

SHOTS - HEALTH NEWSSay What? French Horn Players Run Risk Of Hearing Loss
The effect is much more pronounced in men than in women.

And a quarter of people in the survey who are losing some hearing don't know it.

"They thought their hearing was good or excellent, but many of them already had signs of hearing damage on the test," Schuchat says.

Of course, severe hearing loss is a big problem for older adults, who can find themselves socially isolated when they can't hear what people around them are saying.

SHOTS - HEALTH NEWSArmy's Smart Earplug Damps Explosive Noise, But Can Enhance Whispers
But the CDC also notes that chronic exposure to noise has been associated with increased stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, distractibility and annoyance.

So if you have enough of those things already in your life, the CDC suggests it's worth your while to avoid cacophony when you can, and to wear ear protection when you can't.

If you’re living with tinnitus, you may be desperate for a solution. Days on end with no relief, countless nights lying awake and increased anxiety or stress may be what you’re feeling. Although you may have reached the point where you don’t believe anything will help, it may be a good idea to try several treatment options before giving up.

Tinnitus—a frequent or constant ringing, buzzing, hissing or swooshing sound in the ears without any actual external sound present—affects about one in five Americans, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although there is no cure for tinnitus, partly because not all the causes are understood, there are many options to relieve symptoms.

The first step is to try to understand what is causing your tinnitus—you’ll want to visit a hearing care professional for an evaluation. A hearing professional will try to identify the cause of your tinnitus and determine if you need a referral to an ENT doctor or another healthcare professional. To get you prepared for your appointment, here is a list of common questions you may be asked.

  • How long have you been having symptoms?
  • Is the sound constant or regular? Does it get better/worse during certain times of day?
  • Is it one ear or both?
  • How loud is the noise? Is it high or low pitch?
  • Is the noise very bothersome or slightly irritating?
  • Does it get worse after certain conditions like increased noise exposure or drinking caffeine?
  • Does the sound change?
During your visit, your hearing professional may perform a hearing test—your audiogram will show you a graphic representation of your degree of hearing loss. It measures how clearly you hear sounds measured by decibels (dB) at different frequencies measured by hertz (Hz). Other tests may include the pitch match test where different sounds are played and you pick the sound that best matches the pitch of your tinnitus, and the loudness match test where a sound is played at different decibel levels, and you choose the one that is most similar to your tinnitus.

After your evaluation, you should have a better idea of what is causing your symptoms. The following are the most common causes for tinnitus.

Hearing loss. The most common cause of tinnitus is damage to the sensory cells in the cochlea, which occurs as a result of noise induced hearing loss and presbycusis.

Ototoxic medications. Drugs like aspirin taken in high doses or over a long duration of time may contribute to hearing loss—which can result in tinnitus. Antibiotics, cancer medications and water pills also may cause or worsen tinnitus symptoms.

Impacted ear wax. This can result from pushing a Q-tip too deep into the eardrum. If you wear hearing aids or earplugs, you may also be more prone to earwax blockage. See your doctor—he or she may remove the excess wax for you or recommend an earwax removal method at home like over the counter softening drops (Debrox or Murine).

Meniere’s Disease. This inner ear disorder may cause vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus.

Otosclerosis. This condition is a stiffening of the bones in the middle ear.

Multiple sclerosis. This disease can cause the nervous system to deteriorate.

Unhealthy habits. Eating a poor diet, smoking and drinking may also cause tinnitus in some individuals.

Blood vessel disorders. Head and neck tumors, turbulent blood flow and atherosclerosis may cause tinnitus that pulses with your heartbeat in rare cases.

Here are tips to help you relieve tinnitus symptoms.

Wear hearing aids. Hearing aids are thought to help tinnitus because they provide auditory stimulation. So, basically, the amplification of hearing aids minimizes tinnitus as other sounds in the environment. In addition to this benefit of using hearing aids, several hearing aid manufacturers provide masking programs to cover the sound of tinnitus like Oticon, Widex and Phonak.

Get enough sleep. More shuteye may help protect against hearing loss and tinnitus. Sleeping less leads to poorer circulation, which can negatively affect hearing.

Enjoy drinking moderately. Too much alcohol can cause a toxic environment in the inner ear, causing permanent hearing loss and may contribute to tinnitus.

Avoid artificial sweeteners. Aspartame, commonly found in diet soda, may harm your hearing. Researchers at the University of North Dakota suspect aspartame might have a connection to tinnitus.

Quit smoking or cut back. Research has shown that smokers have a 70% higher risk of hearing loss than non-smokers, and adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to experience hearing loss. Nicotine, an “ototoxic” substance, can also cause tinnitus and may even affect your balance. Remember, high blood pressure may contribute to tinnitus so anything you can do to keep your blood pressure normal like avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol, exercising, maintaining a healthy diet and decreasing stress, can also keep tinnitus in check.

Enjoy that hot cup of coffee…or not. Some research claims higher caffeine intake is associated with a lower risk of tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Other research says caffeine may aggravate tinnitus symptoms. And yet another study found, that drinking coffee after attending a loud concert may hurt your hearing. Use your judgment—see how you feel after your morning or nighttime cup of coffee or tea.

Sleep with your head propped up in an elevated position. Use two extra pillows to lessen head congestion, which may make tinnitus less noticeable.

Mask the noise. Get a white noise machine. Tinnitus can be more irritating at bedtime when it’s quiet so using a white noise machine can distract the brain from focusing on the ringing or swooshing sounds. The machine allows you to adjust the volume to different levels. Options include the White Noise iPhone app which features ambient sounds of the environment to help you relax during the day and sleep at night. There’s also the SnoreMasker ($399 a pair), an earpiece, that fits snugly in your ear and blocks most outside sound. It even has a small speaker inside allowing you to listen to soothing white noise. You can even experiment with keeping the radio or the TV on at bedtime to see if it helps decrease symptoms and helps you fall asleep easier.

Love your music without damaging your ears. High noise levels can damage hearing permanently. Take breaks every hour for a few minutes from the music, or wear ear plugs. If you’re a musician, consider wearing custom ear protection, which lets you hear your own instrument and your blend with others. Ear protection may also enhance the music experience for audiences while protecting hearing. According to scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology, who studied the health insurance records of 7 million people from 2004 to 2008, working musicians had the highest incidence of hearing loss, and were about 57% more likely to suffer with tinnitus as a result of their jobs. If you experience ringing in your ears or speech sounds muffled, get your hearing checked.

Treat ear infections. If tinnitus is caused by a middle ear infection, a doctor can prescribe antibiotics which should eliminate symptoms.

Ear wax removal. Ear wax buildup may cause tinnitus. Your doctor can resolve the issue by removing the excess wax.

Surgery. Is the sound you’re hearing a pulsating noise? If so, it may be caused by the blood vessels around your ear or a heart condition which can require surgery, and may eliminate symptoms.

Medication. Talk to your physician about any medications you are taking to determine if a particular drug interaction may be causing your tinnitus.

Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness teaches individuals that changing their attitude about their affliction can minimize its impact on their life. The idea is to help people learn to control their focus and their stress so that when something out of their control happens, like a loud ringing in their head, they can keep calm and get on with their daily life. Studies have shown that combining mindfulness with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can reduce the negative psychological impact of chronic tinnitus. There are courses online that offer mindfulness training for tinnitus treatment like this one,

Relax and breathe deep. Try meditation or yoga to help reduce stress and cope with anxiety, triggers known to increase tinnitus. Yoga eases stress, improves the circulation of blood, boosts your immunity and eases the stiffness and inflammation affecting joints. This, can in turn, lower the strain caused by tinnitus.

CBT therapy. If you’re feeling depressed, isolated or increasingly irritable and unhappy, it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment with a CBT counselor. A therapist trained in CBT will be able to help you change the way you think about tinnitus from negative to more positive. For example, someone with tinnitus may be limiting their activities because of negative thoughts around their tinnitus. Therapy helps them change a negative thought like, “The ringing in my ears is so terrible. I’ll never be able to enjoy meeting friends for dinner. I might as well stay home alone,” to a more positive thought like, “My tinnitus may be irritating me, but seeing friends may help me relax and I might not even notice the ringing as much. I’ll give it a shot. If I get tired I can always excuse myself early.” Patients also learn relaxation techniques, how to manage sleep better and ways to reduce their fear about encountering unpleasant sounds. In addition, some people worry they may have a mental illness because the noise is “in their head.” Reassurance by a specialist helps to calm such fears and anxieties.

   FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, January 25, 2017 — Songs for Sound, a Nashville-based nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of people living with hearing loss, is making it’s way across Florida this month offering free hearing health services to the public.

The Hear the Music Project is a charity mission and mobile multi-room exhibit designed to not only provide free hearing tests, but to help every person navigate hearing healthcare. If someone does not pass a hearing test, they receive information through digital kiosks and can even demo hearing technologies. Industry leaders Cochlear Americas, CapTel, and Phonak sponsor the project.

“Due to lack of awareness and access, less than 5 percent of those able to benefit from a cochlear implant are being treated,” said Patricia Trautwein, VP of Marketing for Cochlear Americas. “Cochlear is thrilled to sponsor a program that combines mobile health screenings and music to shed light on the important universal issue of hearing loss, and provide access to information and testing throughout the United States.”

Songs for Sound has been helping people with hearing loss access sound since 2010. Jaime Vernon founded the charity after her daughter, Lexi, was born deaf and received the life-changing ability to hear through cochlear implants at 19-months old.

“After years of raising awareness and helping families navigate what can be a frustrating and cost-prohibitive system, we realized we need to do more to reach the people who need our help the most,” says Vernon. “We created the Hear the Music Project to target populations where hearing loss is common and often goes undetected – among veterans, senior citizens, and children living near the poverty line.”

As a result of this targeted outreach, the Hear the Music Project has an overall referral rate of 45 percent; meaning hearing loss is detected in more than 4 in 10 people screened. This includes 85 percent of veterans, 59 percent of senior citizens, and 29 percent of children. These individuals are counseled on site and referred for further audiology. Songs for Sound follows up with each referral via e-mail with a checklist of next steps and how to navigate hearing healthcare.

“There are many options available today for people of all hearing levels. We encourage everyone to consider their choices so they can make the best decision for their health and lifestyle,” says Vernon.

The Hear the Music Project will serve the following community sites in South Florida over the next few weeks:
Jan. 23 Zoo Health Club, Royal Palm Beach, 9am-2pm
Jan. 25 Century Village, West Palm Beach, 10am-3pm
Jan. 26 YMCA of The Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, 7am-2pm
Jan. 27 YMCA of The Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, 7am-1pm
Jan 28 Vero Beach Military History Expo, Vero Beach, 9am-5pm
Jan. 29 Vero Beach Military History Expo, Vero Beach, 9am-4pm
Jan. 31 Lauderhill Community YMCA, Lauderhill, 9am-12pm
Jan. 31 Lauderhill Boys & Girls Club, Lauderhill, 2:30pm-7pm
Feb. 1 LA Lee YMCA Family Center, Ft. Lauderdale, 8am-2pm
Feb. 2 Weston YMCA, Weston, 8am-2pm
Feb. 3 Naples Senior Center, Naples, 10am-4pm
Feb. 4 Naples Family Fitness Center/Farmers Market, Naples, 7am-3pm

The project will work its way up the Gulf Coast in February before touring the Southwest and West Coast this spring. For all tour dates, more information or to support Songs for Sound’s mission and the hearing loss community, visit

About Songs for Sound:
Songs for Sound is a Nashville-based nonprofit organization that believes all people have the right to choose how they hear and communicate with the world around them. The organization serves as a voice for children and adults who experience hearing loss and helps raise awareness of all the options and resources that are available to them. Jamie Vernon founded it in 2010 after her daughter Lexi, who was born deaf, was given the gift of sound and many more opportunities through cochlear implants. Songs for Sound provides education on the different options available to treat hearing loss, raises funds for individuals and families with hard-of-hearing children and lobbies for legislation that makes solutions more affordable and accessible.

By Jane Madell   HH
What do Children Need to Hear in the Classroom?

The majority of what children learn, they learn using audition. We learn by overhearing conversation around us. Children need to hear the teacher, but they also have to hear other children’s comments and questions. They need to be able to hear classroom discussion in order to participate. They need to hear their own voices so they can monitor how they sound and self correct. They need to be able to hear in the auditorium, on the playground, and around the lunch table. They also need to hear movies shown in class and to hear from their computers.

The importance of assessing auditory functionHearing is a complex function. Hearing is more than knowing sound is present. It is important to be able to understand what is being said. We cannot assume that a child has normal hearing because they hear some things or turn to their names. School personnel need to know that a child may hear some sounds but not hear speech normally. A child may hear speech in quiet but may not hear when there is competing noise. Without a complete audiological evaluation which includes testing functional performance, it will not be possible to know what a child hears and to plan for management.

Children learn what they hear. Children can develop language and academic delays if they do not hear normally, if they hear a distorted signal, if they have inconsistent exposure to clear speech, and if they are in an environment in which their auditory brains are not exposed to auditory language/auditory information.

What happens if a child cannot hear well?Hearing loss will affect language development and language skills, all academic areas, literacy, and social skills. Everything we learn in school has a language base. If a child’s language is not at grade level, the child will have difficultly learning in every subject.

Hearing for academic learningClassrooms are noisy environments. Academic learning relies on hearing. If auditory access is not adequate language learning will be limited, and classroom learning will be limited.

Hearing for socializationSchool staff may not recognize that social skills are directly related to language. Young children do not use complex language in play but as children get older, language becomes basic to socialization. When children are having problems with socialization, look to language. Children need to be able to pick up on tone of voice to get jokes, sarcasm and annoyance. They need to understand slang and idioms. Language is critical.

What factors affect auditory learningHearing is first. We need normal hearing (with or without technology) to enable children to access auditory information. Children who have hearing loss or middle ear disease will have problems accessing auditory information. Children also need good and constant language modeling. It is critical to control the auditory environment. Children will hear best when they are close to the person talking and when there is little or no competing noise. School personnel needs to understand need to control classroom noise. They also need to understand that the need for remote microphone systems.

Factors that impact access in the integrated classroomThe rate and pace of classroom instruction can be an important factor. Teachers who talk quickly will be more difficult to understand. The ability to learn using incidental listening will be a factor in learning. If language of the classroom is more complex than the child can understand, learning will be affected.

Auditory problems associated with learningChildren will have problems learning if they have

  • Inconsistent responses to sound
  • Difficulty understand speech information
  • Difficulty with auditory processing
  • Difficulties in response timing (it takes them a while to understand what is said – a listening delay.)
  • Short attention spans for auditory stimuli
  • Easily distracted by auditory stimuli
  • Have frequent requests for repetition
  • Have difficulty with phonics
  • Have difficulty remembering information learned through spoken communication
  • Difficulty with localization

What is needed for classroom success?For a child to succeed in the classroom she needs to have language and literacy at age level, the ability to hear and understand the teacher, the ability to hear and understand peers, and good socialization skills.

What does school staff need to know?In order to help children with hearing loss maximize their performance, teachers need to know the students level of competence in listening and conversational skills, the student’s ability in communication repair, suggestions for reinforcing in different environments and skills for supporting self advocacy.

TechnologySchool staff needs to know what kind of technology a child needs. They need to know how to check hearing aids or cochlear implants. They need to know when and how to use remote microphones. Staff needs to know how to confirm that technology is working and what to do if it is not. They need to know how to check listening EVERY morning to enable them to recognize if there are any problems with the technology. They need to understand that without fully functional technology, a child cannot learn in the classroom.

Final wordsThere is a lot involved in helping children with hearing loss succeed in a classroom. First, school staff needs to understand the effect of hearing loss and what children with hearing loss need. An educational audiologist and teacher of the deaf will be significant in accomplishing this. Then families need to be vigilant to be sure that children are getting what they hear. It is a team effort.


At twenty-four, Bruce Beacom was an aspiring musician looking ahead with all the hope and aspiration of youth. At thirty-three, he was 95 percent deaf. Today, at 46, Bruce is an actively performing musician and sound engineer who has been three times awarded honorary certificates from The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for his contributions as a “Sound Mixer” to CBS’s Emmy Award-winning reality-competition program, The Amazing Race

Following a series of surgeries, and with the sustaining help of much-needed hearing aids, Bruce now hears the world around him. He credits both his dedicated audiologist and surgeon—along with the blessings of modern medical technology—for the life he has regained. But in large measure, the turnaround in Bruce’s life stems from his own determination to get help, take action, and say no to hearing loss.

Protecting his hearing had always been a priority for Bruce, who had been writing and performing music from the time he was a teen and was now earning a living as a sound engineer. In 2003, shortly after his engagement to his now-wife Holly, life took a vast turn. Unbeknownst to Bruce, the “horrible and deafening ringing in his ears,” which began in his late 20’s and steadily worsened, was the first sign that something was seriously wrong. 

In 2002, Bruce had started recording his second album. Just one year later, he was almost completely deaf. 

The ringing, says Bruce, was “like an internal siren that was so loud, it was incapacitating.” Bruce had no idea that it was being caused by otosclerosis—a hereditary condition that causes an abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear that stops structures within the ear from working the way they should. 

For Bruce, the path to proper diagnosis was uncertain and frightening. Along the way, he went to numerous doctors; underwent blood tests, a CT Scan, and other forms of diagnostic testing; was misdiagnosed more than once; but struggled determinedly—with Holly by his side—to understand why he was losing his hearing, and fought to save it.

Toward the end of 2003, Bruce and Holly found a highly knowledgeable doctor of audiology—Sol Marghzar, Au.D. CCCA, FAAA of The Hearing Doctor in Culver City, California—who believed strongly that the cause of Bruce’s hearing loss was otosclerosis. Although Bruce had come in wanting to buy hearing aids, Dr. Marghzar refused to sell him any until he was assessed further for a very specialized ear surgery. 

“That was the exact moment when we felt like there was finally hope,” Bruce recalls.

Recognizing that Bruce needed to continue working and remain engaged in his life, Dr. Marghzar loaned him a pair of high quality hearing aids to use over the next several months until the surgery was performed.

Dr. Marghzar put Bruce in touch with surgeon William H. Slattery, III, M.D. of the House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles, California.

After almost four years of grappling for a definitive diagnosis, Bruce underwent the first of four ear surgeries--stapedectomies—that replaced the diseased bone in his middle ear with prosthetic bones that could effectively pass sound waves to his inner ear. Most patients with otosclerosis only require one surgery in each ear. But Bruce’s case required more. With each surgery, Bruce and Holly prayed for a positive outcome. And with each surgery, they put both their wedding and the production of Bruce’s record, Platinum Pennies, on hold. 

For Bruce, the surgeries that he received over the course of several years were life changing. He regained 60 percent of his hearing. And once the diseased bones had been replaced, the doctors told him that hearing aids would supplement his ability to hear even further. 

In 2005, Dr. Marghzar finally fitted Bruce with hearing aids, helping him gain an additional 20 percent of hearing ability, and bringing him to about 80 percent in both ears.

Bruce and Holly were married at last in 2008. And in 2009, after seven years of “love, patience, and faith,” Bruce finally triumphed in releasing his album, Platinum Pennies —“a testament of what it simply means to hear.” 

The greatest gift that Bruce now celebrates daily, however, is hearing the excitement in his now-toddler son’s voice when he calls out “Daddy.”

Taking action on his hearing loss and using hearing aids enabled Bruce to stay engaged in life, his music, and work, he says. From having travelled the world mixing and recording the audio for reality-TV programs such as CBS’s The Amazing Race and Bravo’s Top Chef, Bruce continues to work freelance on Emmy Award-winning and Emmy-nominated Primetime TV shows as he continues to carve out a name for himself in an industry that relies heavily on sound.

But above all, after fighting so long and hard for his ability to hear, Bruce can now communicate and enjoy life with his wife and joyful son. Just the simple act of communication is a blessing that Bruce counts every day.

Today, Bruce wears newer digital, wireless-connectivity hearing aids—again fitted by Dr. Marghzar— and says the latest technology is even more life-enhancing, allowing him to hear from all directions and in all sorts of sound environments.  

In Bruce’s own words: “With everything that I’ve been through, I now clearly understand that when a very challenging or serious event occurs in our lives, it is not the event that defines us, but rather, how we choose to handle it.”

Bruce’s efforts to preserve his hearing continue every day and will be lifelong. But from the very start, he made the promise to himself to not ever let his hearing loss keep him from being engaged in life and following his dreams.

Bruce’s greatest wish in sharing his story is that people of all ages understand the value of hearing; that they have the information they need to protect and preserve their ability to hear; and that his story helps others find the courage and inspiration they need to seek help and address their own hearing loss.

“Our ability to hear is a great gift that enriches our lives daily on so many levels. It’s not something anyone should ever give up so easily.



    Tim Ingram 
    Licensed Hearing Specliast


    May 2017
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