Apple Wins Hearing, Hearing Loss Continues
Over the past few years, a court decision and its subsequent appeals have made many Americans pay more attention to hearing loss than ever before. That case is Birdsong et al. v. Apple Inc. In this case, Joseph Birdsong and Bruce Waggoner (the plaintiffs) claimed that the design of Apple’s iPod earbuds, as well as the power of the iPod’s audio itself could prove extremely dangerous to one’s hearing, and that Apple could be held responsible for hearing loss, and that the Apple should release financial compensation (to the two plaintiffs), research on hearing damage in iPod users, overall improved safety of the iPod, and redesigned headphones.
In the latest appeal ruling (Argued and Submitted October 8, 2009; Filed December 30, 2009), the court stated that Apple is not responsible for hearing loss, and in the words of the judge’s opinion: “The plaintiffs do not allege the iPods failed to do anything they were designed to do nor do they allege that they, or any others, have suffered or are substantially certain to suffer inevitable hearing loss or other injury from iPod use.” and later continues “At most, the plaintiffs plead a potential risk of hearing loss not to themselves, but to other unidentified iPod users.”
Even with the win in the original case (in 2006), Apple released a new update to its iPod software in 2006 that allowed users to cap the decibel range of the device, redesigned the iPod’s headphones, and released guidelines to give iPod users a better idea of the short and long-term ramifications of loud music exposure. In Europe, Apple was even required to cap the volume levels of all iPods sold within the EU. Even still, many continue to blast their iPods at full strength, especially younger users who do not truly understand the long-term ramifications of improperly using such a device.
The professionals at Miami’s New Generation Hearing Centers recommend that you always listen to your personal music device (such as an iPod) at a safe volume level, and also recommend that you use noise-reducing headphones for your personal listening pleasure, especially if you tend to listen to music in noisy environments (so that you do not feel the need to turn the volume all the way up past “safe” levels). Also, do not be afraid to have your hearing checked regularly; even if you are experiencing extreme hearing hearing damage or loss, hearing professionals such as New Generation’s Dr. Joseph K. Duran can give you the hearing help to help you live a normal life again.