SOURCE: Starkey Hearing Foundation

Starkey Hearing Foundation

August 19, 2010 21:38 ET

The Starkey Hearing Foundation Rallies Music Industry to Promote "Safe Hearing" Among Teens

Taylor Swift and Ozzy Osbourne Among Leading Artists Who Have Joined SoundMatters Campaign to Address Growing Hearing Loss Problem Among Teens

MINNEAPOLIS, MN--(Marketwire - August 19, 2010) -  The recently-released findings from the Brigham and Women's Hospital study which reveal that one-in-five adolescents have hearing loss, bring to light a growing problem The Starkey Hearing Foundation has been tackling for the last several years with the help of the music industry, sending the message to kids to listen responsibly.

The Brigham and Women's Hospital study found a 30 percent increase in hearing loss among adolescents tested between 1988 and 1994. While the latest study did not look specifically at the impact of noise on hearing loss, research shows loud music resulting from the proliferation of cell phones, mp3 players and other personal entertainment devices, could put listeners at risk.

"We saw this coming years ago," said Bill Austin, CEO of Starkey Laboratories and Founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, whose mission is to change the social consciousness of hearing through education and research while providing the gift of hearing to those in need around the world. "Today's personal entertainment devices essentially put rock concerts directly in a person's ear, and with the advanced technology in amplification, the potential for misuse has increased. Sound is a wonderful thing, but over exposure to loud noises for extended periods of time can weaken the ears' ability to work."

According to Dr. Brent Edwards, a researcher and renowned speaker on hearing loss who has written extensively on the subject of hearing loss among teens and who serves as Vice President of Research with Starkey Laboratories, a world leader in comprehensive hearing solutions, "There is no question that premature hearing loss among young people is a growing problem, with existing research indicating a rise among young people in the instance of tinnitus -- a condition associated with hearing loss."

As a result, the Starkey Hearing Foundation created the teen-directed initiative, SoundMatters, which was launched three years ago to raise awareness among teens about the dangers of over exposure to loud music, provide them with helpful tips on protection, and serve as a primary resource for healthier hearing. Tip #1 -- if the music played on a personal entertainment device can be heard by others outside of the headphones or earbuds -- it is too loud for the ear to handle.

Partnering with Best Buy, Sony, JVC, Ultimate Ears, GRAMMY Foundation and others, SoundMatters has recently received the support of prominent recording artists including: Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood, Jordin Sparks, Sarah Bareilles and Ozzy Osbourne, who help spread the word about safe hearing through their social media channels and stage call outs. "Most young people do not realize that many of the artists they respect and admire actually go to great lengths to protect their own hearing," adds Austin. "It is our hope that through the SoundMatters campaign, the message of hearing loss awareness, prevention and treatment will start to reach kids." (To listen to Taylor Swift's teen-directed public service announcement for SoundMatters, visit

For more information, visit and click on the SoundMatters banner.

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