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World Health Organisation Announces New Audio Standard For Safe Listening

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has come together with the International Telecommunication Union to develop the safe listening devices and systems standard which includes a few recommendations to ensure that your audio devices don’t lead to hearing loss.

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The standard was developed under WHO’s “Make Listening Safe” initiative which seeks to improve listening practices especially among young people, both when they are exposed to music and other sounds at noisy entertainment venues and through their personal audio devices. it took over two years to develop the standard so it seems WHO have done some thorough research.

Is this necessary?

You may be wondering, “why is this standard necessary”? Well WHO and ITU have discovered some frightening facts that made this new listening standard a priority. What are these things? Well according to the WHO blog post announcing the new audio standard:

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Nearly 50% of people aged 12-35 years – or 1.1 billion young people – are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds, including music they listen to through personal audio devices.

Given that we have the technological know-how to prevent hearing loss, it should not be the case that so many young people continue to damage their hearing while listening to music.  They must understand that once they lose their hearing, it won’t come back. This new WHO-ITU standard will do much to better safeguard these young consumers as they go about doing something they enjoy.

So what should you do?

Because of the clearly critical nature of the issue at hand the safe listening devices and systems standard recommends that all your audio devices should include the following:

  • “Sound allowance” function: software that tracks the level and duration of the user’s exposure to sound as a percentage used of a reference exposure.
  • Personalized profile: an individualized listening profile, based on the user’s listening practices, which informs the user of how safely (or not) he or she has been listening and gives cues for action based on this information.
  • Volume limiting options: options to limit the volume, including automatic volume reduction and parental volume control.
  • General information: information and guidance to users on safe listening practices, both through personal audio devices and for other leisure activities.

The standard has been announced shortly before World Hearing Day, 3 March, which means you can get to enjoy that whilst also ensuring that your ears will still be functional on future Hearing Days to come.


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