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Huh, What Did You Say?: May is 'Better Hearing and Speech Month'

PALM BEACH, Fla., May 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/- "Huh, what did you say?" is a phrase being used more often by Americans, particularly our children. More than 30 million Americans, that is 1 in 9 individuals, have significant hearing loss and the numbers are growing at a dramatic rate. Thirteen out of every 100 school age children have some form of hearing loss. An effort to bring more attention to this social and economic problem is what led Kathlyn Maguire, who has profound hearing loss in both ears, to begin a grassroots campaign in 2004 that became a 501(C)(3) non-profit in 2007 known as Empowerment Through Hearing (ETH).

Ms. Maguire, a professional communicator, commissioned Listen Up! an 86-page illustrated book as a national public service campaign to increase the awareness of the widespread nature of hearing loss and to hopefully eradicate its stigma. The book, written by Natalie Garibian Peters, will be available at the end of May to schools as part of Wellness Programs and parents of pre-teen and teenage children through and Retail prices: $25.95 in 4-Color; $15.95 in B&W.

To read excerpts from the book go to

Ms. Maguire, the founder and president of ETH, had significant hearing loss for most of her life. "I was in denial for more than 40 years," she said. "I was much too embarrassed and frightened to admit my condition since many perceived it as a disability." Ms. Maguire doesn't want others to suffer the stigma she felt for most of her life and the ultimate isolation from friends and society caused by not being able to hear or follow a conversation. "Our children are at an even greater risk due to lifestyle and the cool toys they own," she said. "If my story and Listen Up! can help them understand the dangers and traumas they might experience then I feel I have contributed to their futures."

What causes hearing loss? Hearing loss can be caused by certain intravenous antibiotics, high dose pain relievers, quinine or aspirin, autoimmune diseases, viral infection, genetics or a simple blow to the head. Hearing loss is the #1 chronic birth defect today. But the largest contributing factors to hearing loss are common noises and elevated levels of sound including jet engines; surround sound and high volume headsets. Every time your child cranks up the volume on his/her earphones to listen to music or a movie, they are beginning irreversible hearing loss; damage that can potentially isolate them from friends and society and effect their performance in school and later in life.

Economics: The economics on hearing loss are significant. When a child is not identified and does not receive early intervention, special education for a child with hearing loss costs schools an additional $420,000, and over a lifetime the costs are approximately $1 Million per individual (Source: Hearing Loss Association of America). Estimates indicate the impact of untreated hearing loss is quantified to be in excess of $100 Billion annually (Source: The Better Hearing Institute). And, 13 out of every 100 school children have some degree of hearing loss.

Who is affected? Thought to be a problem of the elderly, one in six Baby Boomers has significant hearing loss, sadly the problem is not one of age but the degree of noise and exposure to higher decibels of sound that are so prevalent in today's society. This is particularly true for youngsters and young adults. How many times have you heard, "Turn up the volume?" Youngsters begin by plugging into their music players and then go on to concerts and dance clubs where the levels of sound get turned up to the max.

How many times have you pulled up to a red light and felt the vibrations and heard the noise emanating from the car next you, probably driven by a young adult, with top of the line woofer speakers.

How do we educate our children and ourselves? A good beginning is this wonderful illustrated book, Listen Up! that follows the lives of two teens, a girl and boy, who face similar problems with hearing loss. As we follow their story we learn about the different ways that one's hearing can be affected and what preventions can be taken to preserve one's hearing. We also learn how a compassionate friend can come to your rescue.

As founder and president of ETH, Ms. Maguire continues to fund the organization and has dedicated herself and her resources to educating the public and eliminating the stigma associated with hearing loss.

To read more about Kathlyn Maguire and Empowerment Through Hearing go to "About Us" on and click on Kathlyn's Story under her name.

*The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has declared May Better Hearing and Speech Month since 1927 to provide the Association and its members with a public education platform to raise awareness.

SOURCE Empowerment Through Hearing
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