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'Tis the Season for Using Holiday-Purchased Technology Safely

Group Exhibiting at January Consumer Electronics Show

Campaign Collaborates with Consumer Electronics Association, Partents' Choice Foundation, Others


(January 3, 2008 Rockville, MD) With millions of Americans enjoying personal audio technology purchased during the year end holidays, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is encouraging them to use the devices safely in order to avoid the risk of noise-induced hearing loss, a condition which can be permanent, and which can present serious problems and costs for individuals and society alike.

"Sales figures from the holidays underscore the popularity of MP3 players and similar devices," ASHA President Catherine Gottfred says. "Now that the public has gotten what it wanted from Santa, it is time for them to know how to use their newly purchased personal audio technology safely." She adds: "If the technology is misused for too long, over time, noise induced hearing loss can result."

For individuals, impaired hearing can mean barriers on several fronts, from immediate communication problems such as understanding on the telephone and other listening situations to difficulties learning, socializing, and working. Broadly speaking, the CDC estimates that the lifetime costs for all people with hearing loss who were born in 2000 will total $2.1 billion. Approximately 30 million Americans have hearing loss, and about one-third of those have been affected, at least in part, by noise. When ASHA polled high school students last year about their usage habits of personal audio technology, more than half reported having at least one symptom of hearing loss. Overall, the poll indicated that Americans, adults and teens, are listening too loudly and for too long. polling the U.S. public

Meantime, according to recent news stories, Apple, Inc. has for the first time has acknowledged the concerns about hearing loss possibly resulting from unsafe usage habits. Reportedly, the company has filed a patent application that would equip its iPod with an automatic volume control. In 2007, Apple reported that it had sold more than a 100 million iPods worldwide. By a large margin, MP3 players in general predominate portable audio sales figures.

ASHA's award winning campaign, America: Tuned In Today . . . But Tuned Out Tomorrow? focuses on educating the public about the safe usage of personal audio technology across the board, not just the iPod. It encourages consumers to turn down the volume, limit listening time, and upgrade their headphones, something that would reduce the likelihood of their turning up volume levels to block out unwanted sound.

ASHA's campaign has been referenced in previous news reports about Apple decisions, and it is responsible for several "firsts" including convening national legislators and experts to address the potential risk of hearing loss from the misuse of the technology; and, having collaborators from industry (the Consumer Electronics Association, Unwired Technology, Califone International) and from the world of music (the rock group O.A.R.), among others.

"The Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) goal is to keep consumers listening for a lifetime," CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro noted when his organization's collaboration with ASHA was first announced last year. "Once consumers understand the potential risks associated with improper use of personal audio devices, then protecting their hearing is easy. We're pleased to collaborate with ASHA on this important public education campaign."

ASHA has been invited to participate in the Sandbox Summit, a project of Parents' Choice Foundation that will focus on technology and young children at the 2008 International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and occur in the Sands Expo and Convention Center/The Venetian.

ASHA's booth (#72746) will feature www.listentoyourbuds.org, a unique ASHA created resource that educates young children, parents, and educators about safe usage. With CEA support, the site is being promoted to young children through on-line educational sites that are popular with kids.

ASHA's Gottfred notes: "ASHA is very pleased to be the organization carrying the safety message reflected by its campaign to the 2008 International CES. We invite others from the technology industry to join with us in educating the public about safe usage. As CEA's Gary Shapiro has said so well, it is important that consumers avoid suffering noise-induced hearing loss so that they are able to enjoy so much, including personal audio technology, for their entire lives."

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 127,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.

For more information about noise, hearing loss, and noise prevention, go to www.asha.org or 1-800-638-TALK.

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