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UNC students, faculty study long-term hearing loss due to personal music players

Published: Friday, June 22, 2012

Updated: Friday, June 22, 2012 17:06

The problem of noise-induced hearing loss, and the long-term effects that come with high volumes on personal music players, is being tackled by a group of UNC students and two of their professors.

Don Finan and Deanna Meinke, faculty in the Audiology and Speech-Language Sciences program, are working with students from the University of Northern Colorado’s Student Academy of Audiology chapter by building mannequins to help with the education how damaging high-volume music can be.

The mannequins, complete with a sound level meter and a realistic silicone ear, each have their own personality and measure sound-pressure levels produced by music players.

The personality is given to each mannequin with body paint and shopping trips to Goodwill with the intention of making them attention-grabbing and interesting for the students they will be shown to.

The group is building eight of the learning tools to display this fall at the 9Health Fair in the Classroom events in schools throughout Colorado.

By setting the volume to their normal listening level and putting the headphones into the ears of the mannequin, students will see from the meter if they listen to music at a reasonable level. They can then see and hear volume levels that could cause hearing loss over time and learn how to change their normal listening level for the better.

Meinke, ASLS colleague Katie Bright and some audiology students built UNC’s first mannequin in 2007 and have built six since then. The second is now at the Nationals Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and two others were built for the American Academy of Audiology to be used at their conventions.

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