'One Day Without Sound' challenge asks people to experience hearing loss

Pledge asks people to experience hearing loss
Posted at 7:44 PM, May 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-30 22:44:25-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - There's a nationwide challenge on May 31 called “One Day Without Sound.”

It asks people to use ear plugs for a day to experience life without fully hearing it. Sadly, the 48 million Americans with some form of hearing loss don’t have that choice.

Kids playing at the beach, the wind, and the crashing waves are all part of the San Diego atmosphere.

“The ocean for me is extremely important to be able to hear that relaxing soothing,” said Whitney Woods.

But what if those relaxing, soothing sounds were to slowly slip away?

“To not be able to hear, would be one of the worst senses to lose,” she said.

Woods is taking part in “One Day Without Sound,” a chance to walk in the shoes of the hearing impaired.

“When the weather's nice and when I'm not working, I’ve got to get me some ocean,” she said.

But her sense of Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas was about to change.

“I am listening to just a muffled sound,” Woods said.  “Usually kids come with little screams and laughter.  It's pretty silent.”

The bustling beach was reduced to murmur and forced her other senses to kick in.

“I would hope to hear that wave right there crashing,” she said.

Woods studied sign language in college.

“Having a deaf teacher was a whole new ballgame for me,” she said.

But she says her teacher still loved going to concerts.

“Her favorite thing to do was get as close as she could to one of the subwoofers and the base and all of that and just stand near it and feel the vibration.”

“Hearing loss generally is a very slow process,” said Hearing Specialist Toni Merrill with Miracle Ear.

She hopes this challenge not only raises awareness but motivates people to protect their hearing.

“There are quite a generation of people that have been wearing headphones day in and day out,” she said.

She recommends the 60-60 rule to set the proper volume.

“No more than 60 percent of it for an hour--60 minutes at a time,” Merrill said.  “The lowest volume you can hear and understand is the best volume to go with.”

Merrill says even if you use the ear plugs for just 15 minutes, it will make a difference, and for Woods, she already realizes what she's gained is far more valuable than what she lost.

“I’m definitely going to take some time this week to like go to the beach and just sit there and listen.”

Experts say about a quarter of people 20-64 years have some form hearing loss that's untreated.

Merill recommends getting your hearing checked annually.

Places like Miracle Ear, Costco, and Sam's Club, all offer free hearing tests.

For more information, click here.