“It’s widespread, more so than we thought,” she said. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that hearing loss is permanent. You don’t get that back.”
There are more than 13,000 deaf or hard-of-hearing students in the California public school system, according to the California Department of Education.
Miller, a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Assn., which sponsored the event, said the electronics industry has added warnings to some products, but could do more.
“The industries need to start looking at limiting the amount of volume of some of these MP3 players,” she said. “There has been some of that, but they can be loud enough where if a child listens to it for a long time, it can damage their hearing.”
She said parents can be on the lookout for students scratching or pulling their ears, which might indicate a problem with hearing. Other signs included prolonged and high volume on televisions or radios.
“Some people would have difficulty with speech or language, especially when in a noise environment it can be hard to pay attention,” she said.
Linda Junge, principal at John Muir Elementary School, said she sees a lot of children with portable music players, which means more headphones.
“Hearing loss is a concern with so many kids with iPods and earbuds,” she said, referring to the model of headphone that goes into the ear. “Sometimes I am in one corner of the room, but I can hear music coming across the way.”
For many of the young attendees Tuesday, it was their first field trip ever. For John Muir Elementary, it was the first field trip of the year.
Zhorzhik Hovakinyan said he likes listening to KIIS-FM but keeps the volume down.