September 22, 2010

SIUC to host ‘Hearing Conservation Workshop’

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Huh, what? Take off those headphones, turn down the iPod, listen to this. Your mother is right: Those things really can damage your hearing.

It’s a cycle of ever-increasing volume. A student tries to study outside, but the ambient noise is distracting. On go the portable speakers. Then the quiet person at the next table leaves and a trio of talkers sits down. Up goes the volume. Before long, people three tables away can hear the music, but the primary listener is oblivious to the actual volume coming out of those headphones.

The Southern Illinois University Carbondale College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, and the Department of Radio and Television in that college, along with the School of Music, host the “Hearing Conservation Workshop,” a seminar designed to promote awareness of hearing loss and conservation.

The free workshop is 10 a.m.-noon, Oct. 5, in the Old Baptist Foundation and Oct. 6 in the dean’s conference room in the Communications Building.

Benj Kanters, the guest speaker for the workshop, is associate professor and associate chair of the Department of Audio Arts and Acoustics at Columbia College in Chicago. His presentations are useful for anyone, but specifically target those in the audio and music industries.

“The Hearing Conservation Workshop informs people about how human hearing works, and what we need to do to protect this valuable asset,” Todd Herrera, senior lecturer in the Department of Radio and Television, said.

He noted that nose-induced hearing loss is increasingly an international health concern.

“As our environment becomes louder, we tend to close out the intrusions by listening to iPods (and other portable music devices),” he said. “However, with external noise becoming increasingly louder, we listen to our ear buds at higher levels to mask the external noise.”

Volume and duration of noise are the two factors leading to hearing loss, Herreman noted -- and many portable devices, most as small as a pack of gum, can hold entire music collections and can play them for 20 hours straight before needing a charge.

“Recent data suggests that the next generation is facing an epidemic (of hearing loss),” Herreman said. “Awareness is key to how we can preserve our hearing.”

To learn more about the Hearing Conservation Workshop, visit To learn more about the Department of Radio and Television at SIUC, go to and for more on the School of Music, check