Consumer Reports Speaks Up About Hearing Loss

The Consumer Reports’ article “No More Suffering in Silence” is a welcome addition to the hearing-loss community, the staff at believes.  As many of us know, the resources for the average H.I.P* and

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons File: Vintage Beltone Mono-Pac, Model M “Melody” Hearing Aid, Vacuum Tubed Unit, Circa 1950 (8638884782).jpg

H.A.R.P.* are greatly unattainable for most in the U.S. — the number one resource being lack of information.  There just isn’t enough quality information out there.

Wayne Lesser, creator of the lessersound app, knows firsthand that hearing loss isn’t a self-contained problem.  As a young twelve-year-old boy, he watched as his sister was fitted with her first hearing aids: “a large ugly thing, about the size of a deck of cards with wires connecting the ear buds.  She was profoundly hearing impaired.”  At the time, no one thought to check his hearing.  He did the best he could throughout his education at school, struggling to hear, faking it a lot of the time.  (See Wayne’s Story.)  He knows how it can affect family members, loved ones, coworkers, and everyone else who tries to communicate with a H.I.P or H.A.R.P. person.  It contributes to a person’s happiness and well-being to be able to hear well.  Consumer Reports’ writer Julie Calderone has concerns about this as well.  “This widespread problem [hearing loss] is associated with depression, isolation, and possibly, dementia.  We report on affordable solutions and what’s being done to give everyone access to treatment.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports, “. . . about 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids.”  Consumer Reports surveyed their subscribers to see how the numbers fell.  “Almost half of the 131,686 Consumer Reports subscribers surveyed for our 2015 Annual Fall Questionnaire reported having trouble hearing in noisy environments, yet only 25 percent had their hearing checked in the previous year.  And according to research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, just 14 percent of those who could benefit from hearing aids actually use them.”  Lesser agrees.  “There is a risk of hearing loss for everyone through exposure to loud sound who is not already hearing impaired.  People don’t understand or appreciate the substantial hazard of exposure to dangerous sound levels in their environment that causes the tiny hair cells in the ears to die.”

Calderone explains why the numbers are so high for people who need their hearing checked and haven’t bothered.  “A common one, according to National Academies of Science (NAS), President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), and others, is that they can’t afford it.  NAS reports that hearing aids cost an average of $4,700 per pair in 2013 and can climb to almost twice that price.”  That’s not taking into consideration the cost of the doctor’s visits or that hearing aids are generally not covered by insurance or Medicare.

A lower-cost alternative to hearing aids is becoming more popular in personal sound amplification products (PSAPs).  These devices can be bought over the counter without a prescription.  The cost range is anywhere from around $18 to $740.  Working similarly to the concept of a Bluetooth device, the unit fits around the ear and amplifies sound.  Unlike hearing aids, they don’t perform well in lowering feedback noise.  Consumer Reports tested four of these units with three volunteers who had mild-to-moderate hearing loss.  “We found that the higher-end PSAPs helped some of our volunteers hear better, especially while watching TV.”  (Get details on the results of our tests at “Are OTC Hearing Helpers Any Good?”)

Avoidance of loud noises is still a strong preventative measure in protecting your hearing.  The question is how loud is too loud?  With the lessersound app at (nominated as one of the top three finalists in the 2016 Appy Awards — medical category) you won’t have to wonder if the TV is too loud or all the chatter at the local restaurant is causing your hearing to fail.  A quick, simple download to your smartphone and you’ll be ready to test the safe-to-dangerous decibels levels and see the exposure time that leads to hearing loss anywhere you go.

*H.I.P. – hearing-impaired person
*H.A.R.P. – hearing-at-risk person







Aladdin on Broadway: What a Trip!

I still couldn’t believe, I was here. “Mattie Burch . . . yes, me—sitting here on a train, all by myself, going to New York.

The morning sun was shining through the window and felt so good on my face, and the rhythmic sound of the train running along rails made my eyes feel so heavy.  I started to nod off a bit.  The warmth and the repeated clickity-clack teased me into a twilight sleep. Visions of my freckled-faced children pulling on my new cotton-print dress, tugging my hands, tears streaming down their faces played in my thoughts. A tall man with bright green eyes and black hair stood beside me on the platform.  I was looking down at my babies when a finger under my chin pulled my head up, and for an instant, I saw that handsome face. He kissed me hard, picked me up, and swung me ‘round and ‘round in a long embrace.

The train hissed, the porter cried, “All aboard!” and my new shoes landed on the steps to the train car as the man I loved lowered me gently down.

“Happy birthday, sweetheart! Remember, you call us, now. Call a lot. I love you!”

The children cried, “I love you, Mama! Bye! I love you!”

The train car swayed as it left Selma, North Carolina. My mind drifted in and out of sleep. As always, the last words I remembered were . . . (Read More Here)

lessersound™ Creates the “Color of Sound™” for H-I-P and H-A-R-P


High sound levels are linked to many physical health issues and can permanently affect hearing over time – Wayne Lesser.


SAN FRANCISCO, California-April 8, 2016-The lessersoundapp™ was created to determine when noise levels are so loud that possible damage could occur. The Smartphone app can be used anywhere you go: shopping, concerts, construction sites, walking down city streets, even in front of your TV. Most people are not aware when loud noises are harmful to their hearing, and there is no easy way to determine this information. In a country where healthcare measures are so prominent, this is one area that has been ignored. Wayne Lesser, hearing-impaired all of his life, wanted to help people take a proactive approach to protect themselves from further damage.


“The Sound Awareness Movement project came about when I heard so many people say, ‘I hate going to a place that is too loud’ (food, movies, bars, other public venues), and what did that actually mean? What we have done in the app is to define ‘loud’ through decibel levels and familiar colors to explain and personalize what ‘loud’ means, the consequences of exposure to ‘too loud,’ (in real time) and the harmful effects on hearing and body health.”


The National Institute of Deafness reports that approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing. In addition, it also estimates that 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 have high-frequency hearing loss due to stressful noise exposure at work or during leisure activities. Many people are unaware that certain noise levels can cause long-term problems. Humans can become conditioned to loud noises and not even be aware when auditory damage is happening. There is no automatic warning in our bodies to alert us there is a problem.


The lessersoundapp™ created this system to show a warning when potential hearing problems can occur, so that hearing-at-risk-people (H-A-R-P) don’t become hearing-impaired people (H-I-P). It’s simple to use: within five seconds of opening the app, you’ll have the Color of Sound™—a color-coded measurement providing you with useful and beneficial information to protect your hearing.


Lessersound™ and lessersoundapp™ have been endorsed by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), Maryland; the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), New York City; and Speech and Hearing Center of Northern California, San Francisco.


1147 Cambridge Street ♦ Novato, CA 94947 ♦ 310-292-4801

It’s a Good Day to be a Writer

Sometimes a kind word can send us flying.  Sometimes a negative comment can flatten us.  These egos play a huge part in who we are, how our writing develops, and what we strive for in our careers.  My ego is no different.  You see?  I have never had a rejection letter of any kind.  Never.  I’ve been at this writing gig for about eighteen years.  Right now, my ego is feeling pretty puffed up.  I just submitted chapter two of a story that I wrote from another fiction class, and the teacher wanted to see chapter one because she was so curious about the story. She wanted me to publish it for the whole class to read.  I’ve never had that happen before.  It’s proving to be a good day for me as a writer.

I’ve been published in the school paper a few times.  I’ve written for one of the school’s Web sites.  Locally, I’ve had a few things published in the newspaper and other places around town.  And, I’ve never had a rejection. . . . Yes.  It’s a good day today for me to be a writer.

Would I recommend my path to anyone else?  Absolutely not.  This is the one I walked.  It only works for me.  The teacher I had at Long Ridge Writers Group told me when I graduated, “You’re ready now.  Go!  Get published!  Make good!  You will make it.”  But, I wanted more.  I didn’t have a handle on structure.  I didn’t have a handle on grammar.  I didn’t know why my writing worked or didn’t work.  None of it made a great deal of sense to me.  I felt like the grand masters in the writing world knew secrets about the craft that I would never be let in on.  It drove me . . . (Read more here)

Who Invented Whoopie Pies

Whoopie PiesThis was a fun article I was hired to pen as a ghostwriter.  My section stops at Whoopie Pie Fact or Fiction.  

This much-loved dessert has caused dissension among its Eastern devotees.  The Farmer’s Almanac tells us that there are four states claiming the heritage of the whoopie pie: Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.  However, the real story unfolds with the battle between the states of Maine and Pennsylvania around 2007.

News travels fast: Interest sparked in who would win the controversy has been covered in all the popular media beats—The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today—which doesn’t even begin to start the count of Google’s 136,000 pages on the subject.

So what is the buzz all about?  Well, many, many whoopies ago . . . (Read the Full Story)