controlling noise is in our hands

By Nancy B. Nadler, M.E.D., M.A. | Hearing Rehabilitation Quarterly – Volume 25, Number 1 (2000)

April 12, 2000, marks the fifth annual International Noise Awareness Day, a campaign sponsored by the Center for Hearing and Communication to educate the public about the harmful effects of noise on hearing, health and the quality of life. The first “Noise Awareness Day,” on April 24, 1996, was initially planned as a local activity in the New York City area to combat noise in one of the loudest cities in the world. Indicative of the importance of noise to the community at large, this local activity soon grew to become an international event, with participation from professional groups and community activists worldwide. INAD 2000 will include participants from every state in the United States and has grown to include groups in 38 foreign countries. Through International Noise Awareness Day, the synergy of these diverse groups’ efforts will communicate a global, unified message that the dangers of noise must be taken seriously.

In an effort to harness the energy of the many groups concerned with noise, the Center has once again planned a variety of activities for INAD 2000 including free hearing screenings, the dissemination of hearing protection and information, town meetings to “sound off” on noise, school programs, mayoral and gubernatorial proclamations, publicity and media spots to spread the message that “noise hurts” and 60 seconds of no noise from 2:15 – 2:16 p.m., regardless of location. The Noise Center at the Center for Hearing and Communication has also taken an active role in legislative issues, such as the reestablishment of the Office of Noise Abatement and Control in the Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition to educating the public about the harmful effects of noise, INAD 2000 will focus on what can be done about the noise. The theme for INAD 2000 — “Controlling Noise Is in Your Hands” — suggests that each individual has the ability to take an active role in reducing noise in our communities. The articles in this issue of the Hearing Rehabilitation Quarterly discuss ways to be proactive in controlling noise. Dr. Bronzaft, in her article “Assert Your Right to Peace and Quiet”, encourages readers to be more vocal about noise and offers suggestions to “combat noise and regain control over your life.” Les Blomberg of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse in his article discusses the issues of environmental health, sovereignty and civility in noise activism and provides readers with “A Good Neighbor Policy.” In the Community Noise Survey, authors Dr. Bat-Chava, Elizabeth Deignan, Nancy Nadler and Dr. Bronzaft review the results of the 1999 Community Noise Survey and provide a discussion about the reasons some people complain about noise and others do not. Finally, an example of how students have taken control of noise in their own school is illustrated in the article, “Stop the Noise: An Investigation of Sound Levels in Elementary School,” a project by 5th graders from Ida Weller Elementary School in Centerville, Ohio.

All too often, people think that they have a right to make as much noise as possible. The first step in taking control of noise is to realize that you have the right to peace and quiet and to respect other people’s right to quiet as well. In many cases, the solution is simple… just turn down the volume. In other cases, the process is long and sometimes grueling, but with support from community groups and organizations such as the Center for the Hard of Hearing, we can take steps to preserve the peace and quiet in our lives.

The Center for Hearing and Communication is especially grateful to the authors who contributed to this journal, who have, through their efforts, lead the way in controlling noise and bringing peace and quiet back into our daily lives.

Nancy B. Nadler, M.E.D., M.A., is the Director of the Noise Center at the Center for Hearing and Communication.