Why Do We Make It Difficult For Students To Hear In Class?

November 2, 1998--Many children, especially those with hearing or learning disabilities, are facing unnecessary difficulties hearing their teachers because of inferior classroom acoustics. An alarmingly large proportion of classrooms suffers from high amounts of reverberation and background noise, making it difficult even for those students with healthy hearing to perceive speech. Although many school officials are unaware of it, the solutions to improving speech intelligibility have been well known for decades and have been proven in offices, theaters and even the New York City subway system.

The topic of classroom acoustics will be addressed in a workshop to take place in New York City this February. Entitled "Eliminating Acoustical Barriers to Learning in Classrooms," the workshop will be held on February 26-27, 1999 at the City University of New York Graduate Center, 33 West 42nd Street, New York, NY. Intended for educators, administrators, architects, and others, the workshop will provide information on reducing classroom noise and reverberation as barriers to effective learning. The workshop is organized by the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), the City University of New York, and the National Council of Acoustical Consultants.

Measurements of several classrooms in everyday use have revealed acoustical conditions that permit less than half of the speech to be understood. Generally, the problems are caused by improper wall, ceiling, and floor finishes and by noisy ventilation equipment.

Researchers will discuss how to identify, diagnose and solve acoustical problems in classrooms and other listening and learning spaces. They will present the demographics of the classroom acoustics problem, namely the number, type and ages of students at risk. Suggestions on how to identify students at high risk, such as those with mild hearing loss, with limited English proficiency, or with ADD (At

Contact: John Erdreich, Ostergaard Acoustical Associates
American Institute of Physics

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