District celebrates Better Hearing, Speech Month
In honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month in May, Pearland Independent School District recognizes its professional speech-language pathologists (SLPs) for supporting the academic success of students with hearing and communication challenges.
Pearland ISD’s 27 SLPs help prevent, identify, assess and treat speech and language problems that impact students’ achievement.
“Speech-language pathologists work with people every day in settings that include schools, private practices, health care facilities and even their own homes to improve their speech, language, social and cognitive skills,” said Pearland ISD lead SLP Mary Kate Puna.
According to many SLPs, children today are at great risk of hearing loss from unsafe use of personal audio devices and exposure to noisy activities. Guidelines from the World Health Organization recommend that children spend no more than 40 hours listening to a personal audio device per week, at levels no higher than 75 decibels, to prevent hearing damage. Many technology devices and accessories reach volumes above 100 decibels, and even headphones marketed as “kid safe” routinely exceed 85 or even 90 decibels. This makes ongoing vigilance important.
Puna advises that the following simple steps can help protect children’s hearing:
- Turn the volume down (even on “volume-limiting” products). Some headphones claim to have maximum noise output levels that won’t damage hearing. But studies have shown that these claims aren’t always reliable and offer a false sense of security. The best bet is for kids to keep the volume at half level.\
- Use noise-canceling earbuds/headphones. Noise-canceling earbuds or headphones can reduce the need to crank up the volume and help kids hear better by drowning out external noise.
- Take regular listening breaks. Encourage kids to give their ears a rest and take hourly breaks, even if just for a few minutes. The potential for hearing damage hinges on how long a person listens as much as how loud they listen.
- Model safe use. Practice what you preach by watching your own volume and taking other prevention steps. You’ll be a great example—and you’ll protect your own hearing, too.
- Help children appreciate their hearing. Talk to kids about why safe listening is important, so they understand that you aren’t just nagging. Let them know that hearing is something to value and that they should want to continue enjoying their entertainment (and more) for years to come.