Experts warn of learning problems associated with noise in classrooms



    Introduction of  Classroom acoustics standards a must!

    OTTAWA, Jan. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - During a press conference on Parliament
Hill today, the Concerned About Classrooms Coalition urged the federal
government to show leadership in our children's education by encouraging
provincial governments to implement acoustical standards for Canadian schools.
    With children back in school for a new year, audiologists and
speech-language pathologists warn that noise conditions in Canadian classrooms
are far from ideal. Children, who primarily learn through listening, need a
learning environment in which they can fully hear and understand the teacher's
instructions, particularly children with learning disabilities, hearing loss
or those learning in a second language.
    "No legislation regarding standardized classroom acoustics currently
exists across Canada," stated Linda Walsh, President of the Canadian
Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA). "The
government needs to make sound decisions to protect our children's learning
environment and that begins with implementing province-wide classroom acoustic
standards."
    The Acoustical Society of America has developed a classroom acoustics
standard which has been approved by the American National Standards Institute
(ANSI). Consistent with long-standing recommendations for good practice in
educational settings, the standard sets specific criteria for maximum
background noise and reverberation time for unoccupied classrooms. The
Concerned About Classrooms Coalition believes that Canada is in need of a
similar set of standards, and suggests adopting the American standards.
    Canadian studies show that many classrooms have poor quality acoustics
and that children are often working in sub-standard classroom listening
conditions. Results from a Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network
study (Bradley, 2005) show that one in six words is not understood by the
average Grade 1 student due to excessive background noise and poor acoustics
in Canadian classrooms.
    "Teachers are also affected by the poor acoustic conditions in the
classroom," explained Walsh. "When the classroom background noise is high, the
teacher speaks in a louder voice, causing inevitable vocal strain over time.
Teacher absences due to voice problems not only interrupt the learning process
for students, but are also costly for our education and health care systems."
    The coalition warns that decision-makers need to be aware that noisy
classrooms have the potential to negatively affect children's learning, but
more importantly, that acoustics in classrooms can be improved, relatively
inexpensively, to maximize learning. Sound- field enhancement systems, which
project the teacher's voice around the classroom, is one possible solution,
and simple steps such as installing hypo-allergenic carpeting, curtains, or
felt pads on the bottoms of chairs, can further improve the classroom acoustic
environment.
    "Our government needs to take responsibility for our children's education
and implement acoustic standards. All new schools should be built with
consideration of classroom acoustics and existing schools should be assessed
and improvements made to address acoustics" said Walsh.
    Please visit www.caslpa.ca for more information on sources of noise in
classrooms, as well as simple tips and tricks to improve classroom acoustics.

    Concerned About Classrooms Coalition is a group of organizations whose
goal is to enhance the learning environment of millions of children and the
vocal health of Canadian teachers.




For further information:

For further information: Angie D'Aoust, Director of Communications for
the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
(CASLPA), 1-800-259-8519, ext. 241, angie@caslpa.ca

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