App Helps Users Find Ear-Friendly Places Users of the iHEARu app help one another locate quieter spaces and hearing technology access through sound ratings and reviews. App-titude
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App-titude  |   June 01, 2017
App Helps Users Find Ear-Friendly Places
Author Notes
  • Kelly Tremblay, PhD, CCC-A, is a professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington. She serves on the Boards of the American Auditory Society and the Hearing Loss Association of America. kltremblay64@gmail.com
    Kelly Tremblay, PhD, CCC-A, is a professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington. She serves on the Boards of the American Auditory Society and the Hearing Loss Association of America. kltremblay64@gmail.com×
Article Information
Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / App-titude
App-titude   |   June 01, 2017
App Helps Users Find Ear-Friendly Places
The ASHA Leader, June 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.22062017.np
The ASHA Leader, June 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.22062017.np
The statistics on Americans’ concerns about noise exposure are telling: 41 percent of adults age 18 and older in a recent ASHA-commissioned survey were concerned that past noise exposure in loud leisure settings might have harmed their hearing.
Just over 50 percent expressed concern that future exposure could be harmful.
A newly launched app, iHEARu, addresses and seeks to alleviate such concern by helping people in the United States and across the globe find ear-friendly places to hear and be heard. The app, available for free at the iTunes App Store and at Google Play, allows people to report sound levels and share them with others. Through crowdsourcing, people can choose to avoid the noisiest times at restaurants and other places.
Protection and access
Those who simply want a quiet eatery, bar or café can turn to the app’s GPS for guidance. Users note which places are ear-friendly—if, for example, the business offers customers the option of sitting in a quieter area or is open to turning down the volume on music.
And those who like it loud can use iHEARu to see whether a venue’s noise levels warrant the use of hearing protection.
iHEARu is also an accessibility tool. People can use it to let others know if hearing assistive technology is available onsite in a particular public or commercial spaces. The app then guides users to those sites.
iHEARu can also provide useful guidance to clinicians. Audiologists, for example, can tell their patients about quiet places as well as where they can find hearing-looped venues. They can also tell their patients to look for the iHEARu signs in the windows of participating restaurants and establishments.
The app’s origins
As a university professor, audiologist and hearing advocate working to enhance social and communication opportunities for over 30 years, I originally developed the app as a passion project. It is entirely self-funded, with support from volunteers. My father had multiple sclerosis, so during my childhood my family always had to identify places that were wheelchair-accessible.
Developing this app was a way for me to combine my passion for accessibility and hearing protection with the power of mobile technology. To help get it started, iHEARu recently launched the San Diego Sound Project, through which San Diego State University and California State University San Marcos students volunteered to record sound levels at public establishments around San Diego’s lively Gaslamp Quarter and other tourist areas.
These and other efforts to increase the number of user-generated reviews on the iHEARu app will help everyone make sound decisions about where to meet others so they can hear and be heard.
To join these efforts, you can use the app and write hearing-friendliness reviews about the places near you.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
June 2017
Volume 22, Issue 6