Survey: Noisy Environments Bother the Public

A new report from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association finds that many people may avoid noisy environments out of concern for their hearing. The association released its report as part of the Better Hearing & Speech Month.

There may be a lot of differences between generations of people, but there are some things that lots of people can agree on.

One of those things? It’s too noisy in public places—especially in spots like bars, clubs, and concert halls. In fact, two-thirds of respondents to a recent survey commissioned by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association claimed that society was getting either noisier or “much noisier.”

The survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults, conducted by Crux Research [PDF] on behalf of ASHA, also revealed that 41 percent of respondents were concerned that past exposure to noise hurt their hearing, while more than half (51 percent) fretted about future exposure. Nearly half of respondents suggested they preferred quiet experiences to noisy ones.

ASHA, which is celebrating Better Hearing & Speech Month this month, says the results show that the public is taking hearing risks seriously.

“More than 80 percent of all respondents said that their hearing status is extremely or very important, including almost three-quarters of 18- to 29-year-olds,” noted ASHA President Gail Richard, Ph.D., in a news release. “This suggests a strong foundational appreciation of what could be lost to noise without sufficient protection. We urge both the public and those in charge of public venues to take steps to protect hearing health in their establishments.”

Richard also used the opportunity to challenge venues that integrate noise into their offerings to do better, noting that survey respondents put some of the responsibility for noise-level management onto venue owners. The report found that 45 percent of respondents wanted venues to turn down the loudspeakers, while 39 percent asked for design changes and 29 percent requested some form of hearing protection.

“Our polling appears to discredit the notion that the public wants high noise levels to be part of their leisure activities,” Richard added. “This should be a wake-up call to those who believe that noise equates with fun environments. In reality, it may very well alienate customers and may not be the best choice from a business standpoint.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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