The History of Tinnitus Awareness Week
The History of Tinnitus Awareness Week
The backbone of tinnitus awareness has always been the individuals who took action in their own communities. ATA is extremely fortunate to have dedicated members and supporters that put into action ATA’s mission: to cure tinnitus through the development of resources that advance tinnitus research. What began as Tinnitus Awareness Day in 2003, grew to be a week by May of 2004, and has continued, for the past nine years, to be a national effort.
The following represents a reverse timeline of the growth and activities of the American Tinnitus Association’s National Tinnitus Awareness Week (TAW):
2013 - This year we are offering a "Salute to Silence" and want to highlight how important it is to keep the momentum going for all the veterans who suffer from tinnitus as well as the millions of other individuals who are affected by the condition.
2012 – In honor of the 2012 summer Olympics in London, we picked the theme “Carrying the Torch for Silence.” We encouraged everyone to take the opportunity to “carry the torch” for all of those suffering with tinnitus just like our 2012 Tour de Tinnitus riders did, and help bring much-needed awareness to the condition that affects so many millions of individuals.
2011 – ATA celebrated its 40th anniversary and to commemorate this milestone, we chose the theme: “Restoring Silence: One Decade at a Time.” We focused on the progress in tinnitus research and subsequent treatments through each decade since our founding in 1971. ATA member Mark Church helped raise awareness on his bicycle during Tinnitus Awareness Week throughout his home state of Missouri. He rode the full length of the Katy Trail (in Missouri) and raised $3,550 for ATA’s research fund which awards grants to tinnitus researchers.
2010 – ATA’s theme was “Bridging the Gap Toward a Cure” and emphasized the positive direction of tinnitus research. One such bridge was through ATA’s advocacy program, which helped produce a grant from the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) to 2008 ATA-funded ($75,000) researcher, Athanasios (aka: Thanos) Tzounopoulos. Considering this was only the second year tinnitus has been eligible for the DoD’s program, this attention and funding is a stellar achievement for ATA and the entire tinnitus community.
2009 – ATA highlighted “What YOU Can Do To Cure Tinnitus” and how individual people can accomplish extraordinary things with passion, commitment and generosity. Some examples of this included ATA board members, Scott C. Mitchell, J.D. and Jim Chinnis, Ph.D. Both served as consumer reviewers and evaluated research proposals submitted to the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program sponsored by the Department of Defense. Director and tinnitus advocate, Jose Zambrano Cassella helped place tinnitus into the mainstream media with his public service announcement “TINNITUS – Can you hear that?” and in his horror movie, “Second Coming,” featuring a character with tinnitus. Linda Beach, a professional hearing aid dispenser and co-coordinator of the South New Jersey Tinnitus Support Group and her husband, State Senator Jim Beach (D-NJ 6th District) championed the TAW resolution declared in the New Jersey Legislature.
2008 – ATA focused our efforts on “Moving the World Toward a Cure.” Finding a cure for tinnitus is ATA’s number one priority and our theme for 2008 was a perfect demonstration of our mission. By raising dollars to support ATA’s research and advocacy programs we will find that cure. Our mission to cure tinnitus gained momentum in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Our advocacy efforts resulted in an appropriation of $50 million to the Department of Defense’s Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program and for the first time in the program’s history, tinnitus was listed as an eligible condition for research. It was, and still is, the number-one service-connected disability of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
2007 - ATA’s awareness theme was a reflection of need and commitment as we urged our members and supporters to “Take Action Today!” We emphasized the role of our then newly founded grassroots Action Alliance program and ATA’s steadfast efforts to influence legislative priorities. ATA has been, and continues to be, very instrumental in convincing committees in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to call for tinnitus research!
2006- ATA’s fourth year of raising awareness about the seriousness and growing incidence of tinnitus, and the obvious need for increased funding for tinnitus research - TAW started to feel like a movement. Our theme, “On the Right Path,” was based on ATA’s Roadmap to a Cure and was confirmation that researchers are indeed headed in the right direction toward a cure and they have a formula to get us there.
2005- ATA’s efforts became an eight-day week event. ATA staff and board volunteers flew to Washington, D.C., where ATA descended upon Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers on tinnitus research funding, met with the director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and participated in a Congressional Hearing Health Caucus. TAW was also reflected in several big media stories throughout the month of May. The Los Angeles Times ran a moving feature on tinnitus, while Field and Stream published an informative article on hearing protection and tinnitus. And, for the second year in a row, tinnitus made the funny pages. Jim Davis' syndicated comic strip "Garfield,"published on Sunday, May 29, 2005, was about ringing in the ears. ATA was thrilled not only to see the concept of tinnitus presented in a forum that reaches readers of all ages, but also to find that humor can be used effectively to teach people about this common and sometimes preventable condition.
2004- ATA decided to make our efforts a national awareness week complete with a conference held in Los Angeles, CA, grassroots events around the country conducted by energetic volunteers and official recognition from mayors, governors, and the U.S. Senate. ATA member, Greg Evans' syndicated comic strip "Luann"also helped to raise the public's awareness about noise and tinnitus.
May 13, 2003- The American Tinnitus Association established Tinnitus Awareness Day. ATA staff distributed earplugs and information about tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss to people at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, Oregon.
Read more about ATA’s 40 year history and
about how others have raised awareness and funds for ATA's mission of curing tinnitus.