Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Audiology (AuD)

Department

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Advisor(s)

Ayasakanta Rout

Claire A. Jacobson

Christopher G. Clinard

Abstract

The current study was conducted in an effort to promote safe listening habits of personal media player device users. Devices such as the iPod are known to have high output capacities well within the range of potentially hazardous sound levels, thus there is a concern that personal listening may pose a risk to hearing. Intuitive and real-time feedback representing the risk of hearing damage based on selected Preferred Listening Levels (PLLs) was provided to subjects they listened to an iPod. Objective: To provide listeners with tools to judge ‘what is too loud’ (and potentially damaging to hearing) so that they may use the knowledge to modify their listening habits to reduce their risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Subjects: Twenty, normal-hearing, young, female subjects participated in the study. Measurements: Ear canal sound level measurements were made of subjects’ PLLs while listening to music in the presence of Visual, Vibro-tactile, and Auditory feedback and no feedback (used as a baseline). PLLs were separated into three sound intensity level categories; “safe” (<85dB SPL), “risky” (≥85dB SPL to <90dB SPL), and “unsafe” (≥90dB SPL), real-time feedback was administered according to the respective sound-level category. Subject’s perceptions regarding influence, effectiveness and acceptability of feedback were also measured. Results: revealed lower PLLs for all feedback conditions relative to the no feedback condition, however only visual feedback resulted in significantly lower preferred listening levels (p<0.05). Visual feedback was shown to have the strongest influence on subjects’ PLLs (p=0.000), and was perceived to be the most effective form of feedback to alert users to potentially hazardous sound levels (p=0.007). No form of feedback was significantly more acceptable to subjects (p=0.098). Conclusions: Results support the implementation of a Visual feedback system (into iPods) to alert users to hazardous PLLs to encourage safe listening habits. However due to general usage trends (iPods frequently being out of sight during use), the use of a multi-modal feedback system is suggested. Auditory and Vibro-tactile feedback could be easily detected even if an iPod is out of sight, could reduce PLLs or at a minimum alert users to attend to the Visual feedback.

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