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The H.E.A.R. Force Delivers Sonic Survival

The H.E.A.R. Force Delivers Sonic Survival
Kathy Peck
October 8, 2001

H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers) is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of excessive noise. Noise exposure can lead to temporary and permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.

Noise induced hearing loss occurs not only from industrial and commercial noise exposure, but also from playing music too loud, attendance at concerts, dance clubs and raves, unsafe use of stereo earphones, playing amplified systems too loudly and other noisy activities.

H.E.A.R. is here for the musicians, DJs, sound engineers, music fans (especially young people) and anyone needing help with their hearing. We are a hearing healthcare resource on the internet ( and we run a hearing healthcare clinic in San Francisco.

Hearing loss is the number one "hidden disability" throughout the world. Hearing loss is the most common "birth defect" in the USA. Most hearing loss is not reversible, it occurs gradually and it is painless. Estimates from national sources indicate that 5O million Americans suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears), while 28 million have hearing loss. Additionally, some twenty million Americans are exposed to hazardous sound levels regularly.

H.E.A.R. has been recognized around the world for its tireless efforts to educate the music community regarding the dangers of loud sound and to provide hearing protection. Our public service announcements (PSAs) and articles can be found on MTV, CNN, PBS, Newsweek, Guitar Player Magazine, MIX Magazine, and Rolling Stone Magazine. Our information booths at concerts and music industry events across the USA provide free earplugs and advice, and help promote awareness of healthy hearing habits.

The Brief History of H.E.A.R.

In 1989, Peter Townshend of the Who, told the world about his hearing loss. Mr. Townsend donated ten thousand dollars and gave his personal endorsement to H.E.A.R. This funding allowed us to establish H.E.A.R. as a non-profit organization. Musician Kathy Peck, and physician Flash Gordon, founded H.E.A.R. Kathy organized the first fundraiser, a celebrity Rock and Bowl-a-thon, which was covered by CNN, the New York Times, Time Magazine, and People.

The funds raised at that first event provided medical equipment for a hearing screening program at the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic in San Francisco, where Dr. Gordon was the medical director. H.E.A.R. is active in the media, at schools and concerts and on the Internet.

H.E.A.R. is a volunteer nonprofit hearing health organization dedicated to the prevention of hearing loss and tinnitus among musicians and music fans (especially young people.) H.E.A.R. is a 501 (c) (3) recognized by the IRS. H.E.A.R. is neither state nor federally funded and receives its donations from individuals and private foundations who support our efforts.

What H.E.A.R. Does

H.E.A.R. provides hearing loss and tinnitus information. Our web site receives thousands of requests a day from musicians and music lovers all over the world. These visitors are usually looking for audiologists, otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat, ENT), doctors, tinnitus specialists, other hearing specialists, educators, health and music organizations and music business professionals. A list of our accomplishments includes;

H.E.A.R. has provided information on hearing loss and tinnitus to over one million people worldwide. H.E.A.R. has distributed hearing protection to over a hundred thousand people at music venues and events annually. H.E.A.R. provides referrals to our affiliates for hearing help, testing services, custom musicians earplugs, in ear monitor impressions and referrals to music industry businesses, health and music organizations. H.E.A.R. conducts hearing screenings in the San Francisco Bay Area. H.E.A.R. operates a 24-hour information hotline. H.E.A.R. produces public service announcements (PSAs) with celebrities for radio, television, cable networks, the internet, media publications and schools. H.E.A.R. offers 'Can't Hear You Knocking' (Flynner Films), a critically acclaimed video program available for schools and television broadcast (available through and the Active Physics curriculum program funded by the National Science Foundation in association with the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Institute of Physics). H.E.A.R. provides community and public outreach at music and health conferences, music venues and festivals, dance clubs, raves, music organizations, recording studios, rehearsal halls, music industry events and schools. H.E.A.R. provides hearing conservation discussions and panels, hearing screenings and hearing help via our referral network of hearing health professionals.

The H.E.A.R. Force: Hearing Awareness Campaign

Music venues, rehearsal studios and music stores support H.E.A.R. by allowing us to distribute earplugs, pass out literature cards and hang our posters in their venues. To help us expand these efforts, we are growing a volunteer 'H.E.A.R. Force' comprised of young people within the music community and dance culture, along with our H.E.A.R. affiliates.

Our grassroots outreach programs enable us to create successful, peer-based educational programs to help reduce hearing damage and empower young people and music professionals to make healthy, informed choices towards a safe music environment. Our H.E.A.R. volunteers help us promote hearing awareness and annual hearing testing.

In calendar year 2001, H.E.A.R. networked with local volunteer groups in various US cities to pass out hearing literature and E-A-R earplugs at music concerts and raves this summer. Estimated total attendance was over 100,0000 people. Estimated attendance at each event ranged from 2,000 to 20,000 people.

Future Directions

Currently, we are preparing an outcomes evaluation of our ten-year research study titled 'Occupational Hearing Loss and Tinnitus in the Music Industry.' H.E.A.R.'s research advisor Helen Simon, Ph.D. of Smith-Kettlewell Eye & Ear Institute and research statistician, Lauren Gee of the University of California, San Francisco, are working towards the completion of this important document.

It is our goal to publish this research in an easy to read pamphlet format for the music community and general public, and to publish the detailed findings in a scientific journal and to promote the findings in music and national media.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammy People), the National Organization for Hearing Health, and Shure Incorporated provided generous support for this research project.

Helping Hands

The H.E.A.R. Board of Directors include; Jerome Goldstein, Executive Vice President Emeritus of the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, John Doyle, Attorney at Law, Mont Stong, M.S., CCC-A of the California Ear Institute, Flash Gordon, M.D. and Kathy Peck. Our H.E.A.R. Affiliate audiologists, ENT doctors and other health professionals, educators and music industry professionals are a vital part of our outreach work.

Our goal is to work with others to spread the word about hearing awareness. You can make a difference. It is within our reach to initiate change in peoples attitudes and practices towards hearing awareness.

What Can You Do?

1. Link to our web site (
2. Volunteer at noisy events.
3. Donate towards our efforts.
4. Become a H.E.A.R. Affiliate in your community.
5. Tell others about our work.
6. Distribute our literature.
7. Contact H.E.A.R. for more information. Email can be sent to, or visit our website at Our regular mail address is H.E.A.R. PO Box 460847 San Francisco, CA 94115. Our phone number is 415-773-9590.
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Kathy Peck

Musician, Executive Director and Co-Founder, H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers)

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