Speak louder - I'm going deaf!

Can you hear me?

I heard the car roar off from the apartments across the road this morning, and above the roar of the car I could hear the music.  Indian music I think – which is not surprising as there are several families that look like migrants from India living there.  It was the loudness of the music though that set my thoughts off.

 Perhaps if I explain that many years ago, I was involved in an organisation that was set up to provide support, information and resources for the deaf people that live in this city.  I was on what was then the Australian Deafness Council, though it no longer exists – other organisations came into being.  I was also in Quota International, which is a women’s community organisation that has one of its main projects support for the deaf and hearing impaired.  I had many friends who had major hearing loss, and at one time I had students who were deaf in my classes.

I had a long standing interest in deafness – perhaps in part because my mother, many years before, had taught me the deaf fingerspelt alphabet, and I could spell out words to communicate with people with hearing problems.

On quite a few occasions I have been able to help deaf people – including one night which I found rather amusing.  I was traveling with my husband in central New South Wales on our way between Brisbane and Melbourne, and we came across a car full of people – all deaf, who were lost.  They stopped us to ask for help.  How did they know I could sign and help them?  It was many years ago, and we often recall the event – how amazing it was.

The people I worked with essentially were born with hearing loss – and many of them had never learned to speak, and never heard anything. 

Modern medicine and technology has provided wonderful equipment for such people – it was an Australian doctor, Professor Graeme Clark, who invented the ‘bionic ear’ or more correctly the cochlea implant and I remember one of the first people to have one implanted.  It helped her so much.  These days it is commonplace for deaf children to receive a bionic ear implant when they are very young, which helps them learn to hear and speak early.

The noisy driver this morning reminded me of a issue that is likely to cause deafness in our current generation of young people who play loud music – music so loud that it does damage their ears.  If one goes to a modern music event – the sound is far in excess of that which is safe four our ears.  As well young people use MP3 players or other technology playing loud music or conversations that pound the music via the earphones right into their ears.

There is much written about the potential for hearing loss from loud music.   

It is a somewhat contentious issue within the deaf  community – those parents who themselves are deaf, and that condition has been passed on to their children, would like their children to know the deaf community as they know it.  Many deaf people love their special community and would like to share it with their own children.  It is quite a culture – and they love it! 


The noisy driver this morning reminded me of a issue that is likely to cause deafness in our current generation of young people who play loud music – music so loud that it does damage their ears.  If one goes to a modern music event – the sound is far in excess of that which is safe four our ears.  As well young people use MP3 players or other technology playing loud music or conversations that pound the music via the earphones right into their ears. 

There is much written about the potential for hearing loss from loud music.   

We know in industries where loud noises are common place workers as they age are diagnosed with hearing problems from mild tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or total deafness.It is called industrial deafness.

It is quite extra ordinary that young people – even those who know the risks, and even some who are currently experiencing ear pain from excess noise, continue to endure this music.  They don’t bother to turn down the music in their headphones or car, and they happily go to music events where the sound is excruciating.

What is the future?  Do these young people expect new technology to solve their problems?  Do they think hearing aids will help them hear clearly.  I suggest young people speak with older people and ask about the quality of sound that they hear with their hearing aids.  It is often not clear – is often confusing as some sounds do not ‘work’ well.

 If you are a parent, or an adult with some influence over young people, please warn them.  If you are in a position to exert pressure on those venues which continue to pound out excessive sound, please do so. 

 Clearly it is a problem that is being ignored.


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Comments 3 comments

World-Traveler profile image

World-Traveler 6 years ago from USA

I agree with you about the loud excessive sound of some forms of music. I used to work in a frozen food factory where there were machines, and machines and more machines and the noise was deafening. Every now and then an OSHA government health inspector would come into the processing plant. He would be holding some sort of a device moving from one machine where the workers were processing either brussel sprouts, stringbeans or spinich. I tried to see what the device was and what the inspector was doing but the shift manager would shoosh me away. Finally I discovered that the device was an instrument to monitor sound levels, or decible levels. The safe limit was up to 120 decibles, which in some instances some of the machines exceeded.

Now I have been to rock concerts as well as having worked in a high speed frozen food processing plant and I can tell you from experience that the sound levels in the rock concerts exceeded the 120 decible safety limit by at least another 25% and more if you were standing next to the speakers, some of which were ten feet tall.

Why do they do it? Why do people listen to such loud music? For many, it is a temporary escape from reality, meeting the pressures and demands of a do or die high performance society and culture.

I hope that the sign language you learned remains for others to use. Thank you. Voted Up!


Aussieteacher profile image

Aussieteacher 6 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Author

Thank you World-Traveler. I think it is strange that the Y Generation and beyond were supposed to lead us oldies into a new era - but their direction is way off - drugs, sex, loud music and gross stupidity. A worry.


Perry Schneider 5 years ago

That was a very concise explanation. Loss of Hearing is a very lonely experience as millions of our elders suffer from hearing loss every year. Thanks for bringing this matter to light.

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