Are we doing enough to inform students about the importance of looking after their hearing?

“It doesn’t matter to me if I lose my hearing when I’m old, by that time ‘they’ would have developed a cure for hearing loss” claimed a friend’s son recently when she pleaded with him to turn the music on his earphones down, ah the confidence of youth.

Unfortunately, unlike my friend’s son, we cannot confidently predict a future where damage to our hearing can be reversed. We can, however, see the facts that face us today, according to the World Health Organisations February 2017 report:

  • 1.1 billion young people (aged between 12–35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings.
  • 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes.
  • Unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual global cost of 750 billion international dollars per year.

Listening to any sound at a high volume – more than 85 decibels, or dB(A) – can cause permanent hearing loss, tinnitus or both. For example, if you were in a noisy environment of around 94dB for one hour it would begin to damage your hearing. On average, most nightclubs operate at around 100db and a gig can reach up to 110db. These are two examples of loud venues where younger people are likely to spend a considerable amount of time and it is important that they know that they are causing lasting damage to their hearing.

So how do we get young people to engage with the very real damage that is being caused to their hearing on a daily basis? Enter, the Decibel Squad. The Decibel Squad is Action on Hearing Loss’s project that seeks to address excessive background noise in public places. The idea is simple; we use social media as a platform to raise awareness of the damage being caused so businesses start to realise they are losing custom as a result of excessive noise. Here’s how:

  1. Search Decibel 10 in your app store and click download/install
  2. Take a reading when you’re in a restaurant, café or pub and click the camera icon to take a snapshot of the reading
  3. Share the image on social media using the hashtag #DecibelSquad (join our Facebook group too)

If you’re a teacher and you want to raise awareness of noise levels and the impact it is having on students hearing, why not start a project around hearing loss prevention at your school? If you do, I’d love to hear how the project went and to see if it helped students to become a little more 'deaf aware'.

We run workshops with young people where we discuss the impact of hearing loss and the small changes people can make in their behaviour that would make a world of difference to a person confronting hearing loss or tinnitus. Some students I have spoken to admit they do not consider what the world would be like without sound. it is often an illuminating experience for them when you get a group of high school students to try lipreading.

Upcoming Teacher Training events:



Start To Sign for Teachers

Deaf Awareness for Teachers



Start To Sign for Teachers




Start To Sign for Teachers

Deaf Awareness for Teachers



Start To Sign for Teachers

Deaf Awareness for Teachers

As a charity Action on Hearing Loss work with people to create a world where deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss do not limit or label individuals, and where people value their hearing. My particular focus is to support all learners in their pursuit of a rich and fulfilling education. As with many things prevention is the best cure, so taking preventative measures to protect your hearing is a wise move.

For information on the preventative steps you can take to protect your hearing click here. For schools, you can find out so much more on our website including stories and how our equipment can support your students here:

Tweet us so we can continue the conversation. How do we get young people to take care of their hearing?

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For information and advice about our products and services for schools please contact:

Telephone: 0333 240 5658 (calls welcome using Next Generation Text)

Textphone: 0333 014 4530




Alison Winter
Alison is Education Development Manager for Action on Hearing Loss

Alison Winter - Education Development Manager, Action on Hearing Loss