Improving Life for People with Unilateral Hearing Loss

For many of us with intact hearing in both ears, simple luxuries such as listening to music with two stereo earbuds is an ability that we often take for granted. Deafness in one ear however, is an unimaginable condition for many people, and as a result, the world generally isn’t designed to accommodate people with unilateral hearing loss, especially when it comes to headphones and earbuds. That is, until now.

Far End Gear’s XDU Single Earphone is the perfect listening solution for people with unilateral hearing loss. By channeling a full, crystal clear stereo mix through one earbud, the XDU Single Earphone gives people with unilateral hearing loss the ability to finally experience the joy of listening to both channels of audio in one ear.

What Exactly Is Unilateral Hearing Loss?

Unilateral hearing loss, otherwise known as single-sided deafness, is a condition in which one can hear normally out of one ear, while impaired in the other ear. Several factors can cause one to have single-sided deafness, including two conditions known as microtia and aural atresia.

Microtia is an outer-ear deformity, in which the ear never fully develops, while Aural Atresia is characterized by the absence or closure of the external ear canal. When an individual has atresia and microtia in the same ear, the result is unilateral hearing loss. Experts believe that 1 in every 6,000 children is born with microtia and atresia, making this a fairly common disorder.

The Difficulties Posed by Unilateral Hearing Loss

Melissa Tumblin is the founder of Ear Community, a non-profit organization dedicated towards helping people afflicted with microtia and atresia. She noted, “When an individual has unilateral hearing loss, they lose the ability to locate where sound is coming from.”

In 2009, Tumblin gave birth to her daughter Ally, who was born with microtia and atresia in her right ear. In a personal interview, Tumblin gave us a glimpse into the everyday difficulties posed by Ally’s hearing loss.

“When my daughter, Ally, is riding her bike alongside the street in our neighborhood, she can’t always hear when a car is coming up behind her. When she hears the car behind her, she’ll often look the opposite direction that the car is coming.”

Additionally, Tumblin mentioned that standard earbuds cause an enormous inconvenience for Ally, as Ally’s only option is to listen to half of the audio mix, with the other earbud taped off when using a dual earbud set. For kids with unilateral hearing loss, using a headset with one earbud taped off also makes them an outcast among friends with full hearing in both ears.

Ear Community Connects With Far End Gear

Recently, Tumblin connected with Kevin Goldstein, CEO of Far End Gear. To help people with unilateral hearing loss fully enjoy the luxury of using audio equipment, Goldstein and Far End Gear have donated hundreds of sets of the XDU Single Earbud to Ear Community. For children with unilateral hearing loss, having the ability to listen to music without taping off one earbud is priceless, as it helps them fit in among friends with bilateral hearing.

A special thanks goes to Melissa Tumblin for her insight and knowledge on unilateral hearing loss. For more information on unilateral hearing loss, please visit

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to share any experiences you have with unilateral hearing loss, feel free to post in the provided space below- we would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!

Jeff Sheerin

By Jeff Sheerin