Tuesday February 02, 2016

Welcome noise: an acoustician comes to terms with hearing loss

 John O'Keefe at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto.

John O'Keefe at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto. (CBC)

Listen to Full Episode 27:30

Imagine defining yourself by a single skill: a painter's eye, an athlete's speed a singer's perfect pitch.

So who are you if that special skill threatens to disappear?

This story begins under the bright house lights of a Toronto theatre. Hundreds of wooden seats surround the stage, and all but one is empty. Near the back of the room a man sits alone with his thoughts. Vanessa Greco brings us a story of what this man stands to lose, as his very special skill begins to fade.

An interpretation of what high frequency hearing loss - like John O'Keefe's - sounds like.

Facts from the Canadian Hearing Society: 

  • The two chief reasons for high frequency hearing loss are age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). 
  • Audiometric results from the 2012/2013 Canadian Health Measures Survey reported that high-frequency hearing loss was prevalent in 35.4% of Canadians aged 20 to 79.

Rex Banks, Au.D., Reg. CASLPO (Director of Audiology, Canadian Hearing Society)

About the producer

Vanessa Greco is a producer with CBC Radio's Syndicated Audio unit in Toronto. Previously, she's worked with Radio One's The Current, Day 6 and q. Her writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and on CTV News online.

Welcome noise Image 2

Producer Vanessa Greco and John O'Keefe. (CBC)


Related links

These documentaries inspired Vanessa's work.  Some are about hearing loss, others are just great stories!

Outside of docs on deafness, here are two pieces Vanessa revisited for inspiration while working on her documentary: