Prevention of blindness and deafness

Safe Listening Devices

WHO estimates that 1.1 billion young people worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. To take note of the threat posed to hearing through the unsafe use of personal audio systems, WHO, in collaboration with ITU, hosted two consecutive meetings in Geneva.

On 1 October, the WHO-ITU Stakeholders' Consultation on Safe Listening Devices was held with representatives of academia, manufacturers and related associations, and civil society organizations. The aim of the meeting was to explore ways to reduce the risk of hearing loss due to the recreational use of personal audio systems.

This meeting was the first of its kind and important issues were raised by the different stakeholders and experts in the field. On 2 October, the WHO-ITU Expert Consultation on Safe Listening Devices was held to discuss the setting up of a technical working group for developing norms and standards for and promoting use of safe listening devices.

Audiologists, sound engineers, experts in noise exposure, and officials from standardization agencies participated. Following this meeting, work was initiated on development of these norms and standards to be undertaken by WHO and ITU in collaboration with other stakeholders.